The Wine Merchant issue 117

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THE WINE MERCHANT. An independent magazine for independent retailers

Issue 117, September 2022

Dog of the month: Sydney Brixham Wine Loft, Devon

Camberwell, here we come Peckham Cellars is expanding See page 5

Old problems return for new Winebuyers team Online marketplace faces furious reviews from disappointed customers and a claims of non-payment from suppliers

W

inebuyers, the online

report ongoing problems with the London-

marketplace, is facing an angry

based business.

backlash from merchants

One said: “I’m owed just over £3,500 and

who say they are not getting paid on time

that’s for stuff we’ve sent out over the last

and from customers who say they are not

three weeks. It’s all been dispatched, and

receiving the wine they ordered.

customers have had their wine.

The site works with a number of

“It’s just been a nightmare. They don’t

“I’ve asked them to hold my wines off the site because I don’t want customers to be disappointed in me. The end consumer knows who the wine is being sent by.” Another merchant told us: “I have had problems with them paying me. I’m in my third or fourth month working with them

independent merchants, some of whom

answer their phones, they don’t answer

and the first order that went through I had

have contacted The Wine Merchant to

their email, or text.

to chase them for my payment.


NEWS

Inside this month

Trustpilot reviewers accuse Winebuyers of non-delivery of wine ordered from website “The second order went through, but I

4 COMINGS AND GOINGS

will have to also chase that.”

Edinburgh merchants expand, and Henley bursts into life

23 THE BURNING QUESTION

Trustpilot reviews paint a grim picture.

£1.6m. The website was bought from the liquidators for £145,000. A Seychelles-registered business,

Some are from suppliers such as Italian-

Ophidian Corp, now holds between 50%

based WeVinoStore. “We have shipped

and 75% of the shares of the Winebuyers

more than 200 orders and got paid for

Group Ltd. Kyle Fordham, representing the business,

Are suppliers being more

only 20,” it claimed. “After that they just

reasonable with minimum orders?

disappear. We were contacted by plenty

rejected claims about late payments to

of other affected ex-suppliers with the

suppliers. “We would need a specific

24 CANCEL CULTURE

same issue. I believe there are a lot of

example of this being the case as I don’t

How indies deal with the vexed

angry customers as well as we’ve stopped

believe it to be accurate,” he said.

problem of no-shows

shipping orders as [we] never got paid.” One customer, identified as Julie Tucker,

On the question of unanswered calls and emails, he said: “Our system monitors all

28 JUST WILLIAMS

said: “Wish I had looked at this site before

inbound supplier communication, both

Why some of us get so

I ordered from Winebuyers! No wine, no

calls and emails, and we have no evidence

argumentative about wine

response – nothing. They have taken the

of this being accurate.”

money but I have heard absolutely nothing

36 BRIGITTE BORDEAUX

and can’t get a response from them.”

Our profile of this enterprising Nottingham wine merchant

Steve Hambleton’s review stated: “Ordered 25/6/22 and never received items, never even had confirmation

46 BEYOND BURGUNDY

Discussing the Winebuyers business model, he said: “We make our revenue by charging suppliers a subscription fee to list and advertise. “One change we have made is the

although it is recorded on their website.

introduction of various new subscription

What options do we have if we

Contacted support twice with zero

packages, and we now have a number of

can’t get hold of the good stuff?

response. I ordered with credit card so

different packages depending on the type

should get the money back. Very poor.”

of supplier listing and ultimately how many

Other reviewers have also reported

SKUs [there are] within their portfolio, but

50 focus on TURKEY Indies should take a fresh look at

contacting their credit card issuers for

the country’s winemaking culture

refunds after struggling to obtain refunds from Winebuyers.

52 make a date

The original Winebuyers site

we do not charge a commission.” When asked to comment on the flurry of poor reviews on Trustpilot, Fordham said: “We had two large suppliers experience

Plenty more tastings to explore as

encountered similar problems in its

difficulties shipping to the UK which

the Christmas run-in begins

dealings with merchants and consumers

resulted in an influx in negative reviews.”

before its owner, Winebuyers Ltd, collapsed in April 2021 with debts of

He added: “We are a small company and continually working to improve.”

THE WINE MERCHANT MAGAZINE winemerchantmag.com 01323 871836 Twitter: @WineMerchantMag Editor and Publisher: Graham Holter graham@winemerchantmag.com Assistant Editor: Claire Harries claire@winemerchantmag.com Advertising: Sarah Hunnisett sarah@winemerchantmag.com Accounts: Naomi Young naomi@winemerchantmag.com The Wine Merchant is circulated to the owners of the UK’s 1,012 specialist independent wine shops. Printed in Sussex by East Print. © Graham Holter Ltd 2022 Registered in England: No 6441762 VAT 943 8771 82

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 2


Crafting world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley since 1933.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 3


Second Edinburgh shop for Cornelius

for Lindr, which was the system that Graft

Cornelius Beer & Wine in Edinburgh has

wines that we already took that we knew

opened a second store.

were amazing.”

recommended. “At the moment we have wines from Roberson on tap as they had a couple of

Most wine merchants will concede that

Owner James Wrobel reports that he’s

taking that leap from one to two shops

been looking for a second premises for a long time. “It’s a pretty saturated market,”

An artist’s impression of the new store

taking it all in his stride.

he says, “and this was the first time that we

“We felt relatively well prepared,” he

found a spot we really agreed on. It’s quite local to the current shop but it is a very different part of Leith and will open us up

can be daunting. Findlater agrees, but he’s

everything the same size on the shop fronts. “One issue is that they don’t want any

says, “but it’s been a massive learning curve. Even things like a stock system that

exterior shutters, so I’ve got to have grilles

works across the two sites … you don’t

The new shop, on Leith Walk, is part of

on the inside, which means I might have

want to reinvent the wheel so it’s trying to

the redevelopment of Steads Redbrick, a

my windows smashed every so often. It

gain efficiencies and maximise the potential.

parade of shops which a few years ago was

should be fine, it’s a pretty good street with

saved by the local community from being

lots of locals, in a very densely populated

deal with a lot of suppliers in London,

knocked down and being replaced by flats.

area of Edinburgh.”

and they’ll ship up, but they only want to

to a whole new customer base.”

“Thanks to vigorous campaigning from

The new shop is about half the size of

“I guess the biggest thing is that we

deliver to one site so there’s a lot of me

the locals, the site is being refurbished and

“the mothership”. Wrobel says: “I’ll start

ferrying it across town. It’s just getting to

restored and turned into a parade of shops

off pretty much replicating what we have

grips with things like that.”

again,” says Wrobel.

at our Easter Road shop. Every community

“We put the offer in January and were

is different and I’m sure over the coming

supposed to get the keys in May and it’s

months I’ll discover what people will want

been really delayed, which is annoying, but

to drink down there and the shop will

it’s not costing me any money at least.

reflect that. I don’t think they will really

“One of the good things about the delay

need the huge amount of Vinho Verdhe and

is that I’ve had plenty of time to get into

orange wines we have [at Easter Road], but

negotiations with the developers. They’re

we’ll see.”

not giving me any fuss about the interior, but the exterior and all the signage has to vaguely match the rest of the units. They want to keep all the colours muted and

Second Edinburgh shop for S&G

The second shop is based on the original model in Stockbridge, but expanded a little to offer a larger selection for off-

After seven years of trading in

sales. Portobello is similar in size to the

Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Smith &

Stockbridge site but it’s not quite operating

Gertrude has opened a second site a

at full capacity yet.

20-minute drive away in Portobello. Owner Duncan Findlater says draught wine is a popular addition to the new shop. “We’ve got wine on tap so we can offer

James Wrobel

The Stockbridge branch

Findlater says: “It’s split into two areas, almost, and there is a private dining room, so it has a lot of potential for events and for doing the book clubs, tastings

quality wines at a really solid price point,”

and collaborations that we already do in

he says. “It feels that, in the years since we

Stockbridge. We’ve just got the bar open

opened at Stockbridge, what you can get

at the moment, but we will get it to the

access to via keg now is amazing and that’s

point where we are opening more regularly

going down really well for us. We went

during the week as well.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 4


Bacchus Peckham Cellars on expansion trail

e-commerce side of the business.

Peckham Cellars has big plans to

using a storage unit down the road.

grow the brand into neighbouring Camberwell. The expansion, which is due to complete

McVeigh adds: “We wanted a dedicated retail site because we have been muddling through, half using the restaurant, half “We’re really looking forward to being able to focus on the retail. It will be sort of a hybrid, but it’s split into two very distinct

early next year, comprises a restaurant,

halves. One side is a wine shop with a

Little Cellars, with an adjacent wine bar

tasting room downstairs and the other side

and store, which will be launched as the

is a small but perfectly formed wine bar.”

Cellar Next Door bottle shop. Co-owner Ben McVeigh explains that when Peckham Cellars opened back in 2019, the focus was hospitality rather than retail. “We never started out to be a wine

Italian specialist has big ambitions Italian specialist Baccello has opened

retailer,” he says. “But as we opened just

for business on the High Street in

before the pandemic we set up a website

Christchurch, Dorset.

and did the whole retail thing, and most people got to know us through that.” McVeigh and his partners, Helen Hall

Owner Yuanyi Li is on a mission to promote Italian wine. “I’ve lived here there and everywhere – Italy, the UK, China,

and Luke West-Whylie, first spotted the

Singapore – and I have the most love for

new premises over a year ago and initially

Italian wine,” he says.

planned to start trading from there last

Li, who used to run a chain of over

November, but things are rarely that

20 sushi restaurants in Italy, is directly

straightforward.

importing around 30% of the wine and

“It’s all a bit complicated,” explains

sourcing the rest from UK distributors,

McVeigh. “The landlord is redeveloping the

but he plans to increase his importing

building so it’s all tied up in a much bigger

activities.

plan. He’s been good about it, but there

“I am looking into AWRS as part of my

have been some unforeseen things along

long-term plan,” he says, “but for now, the

the way.”

wine I import is not for wholesaling.”

The move will allow the team at

Baccello is a hybrid and Li predicts that,

Peckham to “lean into the restaurant a bit

in the first few months of trading, off-sales

more”, although there will still be some

will only account for 20% of business.

wine available for retail. The Camberwell site will also serve as a hub for the growing

“I could be completely wrong with my forecasting,” he admits, “but at Christmas I have a plan in place to do hampers and gifts, so I’m expecting the retail to shoot up to maybe 35%-40%.” Future plans include Baccello own-label wine and possibly more stores to follow. “I’m fairly confident with the model,” Li says. “I think it can be easily replicated so I’m

Ben McVeigh, Helen Hall and Luke West-Whylie

hoping this will be one of many.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 5

Pairing wine and homicide

A “wine and murder escape room” is coming to Manchester Hall in the city in the autumn. The focus of the roaring 20s murder mystery evening will be a party hosted by the fictitious Hawker Wine Estate and its wealthy owners the Von James family. “The celebrations turn sour when a storm of vengeance, lies and deceit ruins the evening,” the bumph declares. “You must stick together, hold your nerve and beat the clock in order to escape Hawker alive”, a scenario that will be familiar to anyone who’s been on one of The Wine Merchant’s buying trips.

Join us in the black hole

No mincing words on the pop-up window on the St Andrews Wine website: “We try and inject a little joy in the horrible black hole that is social media. Please follow us. We promise it will be fun.”

The smell of piano teacher

Jancis Robinson has been on holiday and Tamlyn Currin, deputising for her in The Financial Times, has used the platform to make a case for left-field metaphors in wine descriptions, rightly pointing out that books and wine courses tend to encourage an approach that is “rigid, prescriptive and pedantic”. “My first lesson in metaphor came from Jancis,” she writes. “Back when I was tasked with transcribing tasting notes from her hieroglyphic shorthand, I found myself typing up a tasting note for a 1976 Mosel. It read: ‘Piano teacher’. I knew exactly what she meant. “I had a piano teacher growing up. She was 75 and parchment thin, very strict, always disapproving. I didn’t practise my scales, and my fingers were rapped with a ruler on a regular basis. “The house smelt of potpourri and mustiness. Jancis had added a note clarifying that the term was ‘my shorthand for a smell of macerated raisins and very slightly musty velours’ but it wasn’t necessary. ‘Piano teacher’ said it all.”


Sheffield rivals keep it friendly Sarah Hatton and Virginia Myers, who met while working at StarmoreBoss in Sheffield, have opened their own wine shop in the city under the name Tenaya. “We were sad to leave,” admits Myers, “but they have been very supportive. Barry [Starmore] has already popped in and they’ve all offered help if we need it. There aren’t many wine places in Sheffield so there is room for both of us.” Both shops may be on the same side of town, but topography ensures a significant separating factor. “We’re at the top of a really steep hill,” says Myers. “We are a couple of miles away and StarmoreBoss is right down in the valley. “It seems that people have really been wanting a wine shop and bar here for a while and they’re pretty excited, so it’s great. There is lots of residential nearby and they use this high street. There’s a good mixture of people – long-term Sheffield residents as well as London transplants and people who have stayed on after university.” Tenaya is working with suppliers

cap

including Alliance, Wines Under the Bonnet, Wayward, Flint and Indigo. Myers says: “We’ve got a broad spectrum of wine but we are aiming to specialise in California. It’s just hard to get it at the right price bracket, but we have found some lovely stuff. “We’ve probably got more French wine

Top: Sarah Hatton (left) and Virginia Myers and, below, the store frontage

at the moment. We’re trying to get things that are female-produced and which are

“This will change regularly as we’ve

The pair will also be stocking a “small

female-produced because that can also be

got the whole shop to choose from,” she

spirits range”, which includes Californian

hard to find, but we are trying to focus on

explains.

gin and vodka from St George Distillery and

sustainable. Obviously not everything is

those things.” The premises includes a bar area to seat

“It will just give people a chance to try, and of course they can pick any bottle off

tequila from Ten Locks. “We’re leaving the serious spirit sales

about 15 and Myers says there will be a list

the shelf or out of the fridge and drink in

to Jeff [Boss],” admits Myers. “He’s got

of wines available by the glass.

for a small corkage fee.”

everything under the sun.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 6


GIV AD SUPPLIED SEPARATELY


Henley no longer a wine desert Henley-on-Thames has long been in need of an independent wine merchant – and now two have opened within months of each other. July saw the launch of ChinChin Henley, which is owned and run by Adrian Fry, who has already hosted three successful events at the store and has plans for many more. “The first one was super-nervy for me,” he admits. “Although I had done things like that professionally before, this was my first time doing it with wine, but I think I’ve found my feet. They have been really well received and now I’ve got those first-night nerves out of the way, I really enjoy it. “We’re discussing doing a Hundred Hills [the nearby sparkling wine producer] evening maybe a little closer to Christmas. I’ve taken a couple of customers to Hundred Hills for a tasting and we had a really fabulous experience there.” After a corporate life as an HR director, Fry’s growing love of wine got the better of him. He says: “My wife and I have had a coffee shop in Henley for the past year, which has proved really successful, and when the unit next door became available we had a few sleepless nights wondering whether or not to take the plunge.” ChinChin is a hybrid with enough seating Top: An event at ChinChin and, below, the Jacobini interior

to accommodate 12 people. The wine range is broad and evolving and currently has a strong French representation. “I wouldn’t

of other suppliers including Lea &

and we have a curated collection that is

say it’s a specialist area,” says Fry. “But we

Sandeman and Thorman Hunt.

unique because we have connections with

are definitely looking for a quality-to-price

Another independent wine shop,

vineyards in Italy and France.”

ratio and I think there are some really,

Jacobini, opened on Hart Street last

really great wines from lesser-known

month. It’s a collaboration between owner

directly sourced by Hatfield and McGee as a

regions such as Languedoc and the Loire.

John Hatfield, local artist Kirsten Jones and

result of their Italian and French expertise,

wine importer Eddie McGee.

but other countries, notably California, are

“We do have wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy but we are looking outside those

Jones describes Jacobini as “a creative

typical areas. I’m supported very well by

space where people can come and enjoy a

Ruby Willis at Yapp.”

glass of wine, or a bottle”.

Fry is also working with a small number

She adds: “We do free local delivery

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 8

Of the 100 or so lines in stock, most are

also represented. Hatfield is a fan of the enoteca model, so small plates of antipasto and tapas will be served on the premises.


LETTERS Steady as she goes at Vine & Bine Mark Stammers has launched Vine &

Duty reforms Wine trade must redouble efforts

Bine in the Solihull branch of Connolly’s, as reported in last month’s edition of The Wine Merchant. Stammers says owning his own shop was something that had always been a possibility, but it took recent events to make him take the plunge. “I think I’d racked up over 22 years at Connolly’s,” he says, “and when Chris decided he didn’t want to renew the lease it brought things into focus and I decided, rather than getting a real job, I’d do this!” The rebrand may have made customers

Thanks for your considered editorial (The Wine Merchant, August) about the duty reform issue that is plaguing the wine trade but not the pub trade so much. I can see that the draught beer duty discount will be popular and, like you, have seen that the beer lobby has demanded that the reforms be implemented as soon as possible. It was interesting that the interim government decided not to include the reforms in the published Finance Bill 2022-23 draft legislation on July 20, but did add at the end of the statement: “The government are considering the feedback received (from the consultation) and will respond in the autumn”. Your point that the drinks industry is not united on the proposed reforms needs to be a rallying cry for the wine industry to redouble its efforts at this stage and marshal the best arguments and put them to as many MPs as possible before the autumn.

a little jumpy, but Stammers says once they

Once a decision is made either way there is very little scrutiny allowed in the House

came in and saw the familiar faces of the

of Commons and none (as far as I have been told) in the House of Lords.

team (the two other staff members stayed on with him), they were reassured. A month since the handover, changes have been minimal. “There’s not been time to do anything radical,” says Stammers, “and there’s not anything that needed changing, it’s just going to be a case of gradual alterations as the weeks go by. The range will change to reflect more of the interests of myself and the team. “We want to do more with craft beers:

The stongest argument is that, far from simplifying the tax system for wine, the policy would massively complicate it and lead to hugely increased bureaucracy throughout the supply chain. To be honest it is hard enough trying to check that the duty and VAT that is charged against my duty deferment account at the moment is correct, even when it is fairly straightforward to charge. It will be nigh impossible to work out the correct tax if it is based on ABV, both for customs clerks and customers. The increased burden on the system and cost since leaving the EU has been huge (£125 extra per consignment just for import and export declarations – over 200 consignments per annum in my business = £25,000+), with freight agents, hauliers and clerks taking longer to carry out their functions

Adam, the shop manager, is passionate

with the existing post-Brexit regulation changes. I fear we

about his beers. Then there’s the spirits

will look back at this period as simple in comparison to what

range: tequilas, rums and more niche

is proposed if that comes about.

spirits that don’t tend to get well covered

Every independent wine merchant will be adversely

in Birmingham. Distilling is a growing

affected by the proposed reforms if they are enacted. We will end up paying about

scene around here, and there are a number

10% more in duty overall, even after the sparkling wine rate is removed, but working

of people coming through now though, like Spirit of Birmingham. We’ve got their vodka on the shelf and they are bringing out a whisky at some point. “There’s definitely a growing interest in local products. People are more conscious about food miles and would rather support a small local producer who, literally in the case of Spirit of Birmingham, is working up the road. We’ve seen that support on the craft beer side.”

out the new duty for every single wine, irrespective of whether we import it, buy under bond or duty paid, will also add a significant cost of bureaucracy. The tax goes up but the implementation of the tax also adds cost, relating to each individual wine we stock and sell. I really feel there will be a lot of error involved in the paperwork, the calculation of tax (one clerk said it would be done manually for every import, on a piece of paper with calculator and pencil), the ABV being incorrectly reported, all of which will be impossible to check without a lot of extra personnel. Would you want that job? The more I think about it, the worse it gets, and the more burden it will add to our stretched accounting resource. Hal Wilson, Cambridge Wine Merchants

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 9


Rising Stars

Amjuly Del Carpio Cellar Door Wines, St Albans

F

rom making cider in Peru to starting a new life and career in the UK, Amjuly Del Carpio is blazing a trail of positivity and enthusiasm. “Amjuly is just the perfect employee,” says Penny Edwards, owner of Cellar Door Wines. “She has great energy and just rolls her sleeves up and gets involved in every aspect of the business, which is very important in a small company because we all need to do a little bit of everything in order to make it all work. She’s re-jigged the warehouse and she has new ideas and suggests ways to improve processes in the shop. Amjuly takes pride in what she does and is constantly looking to help to improve the business. “And the most important thing is that she wants to learn about wine and she’s crammed a whole lot of wine learning into a short space of time,” she adds. In less than six months, apart from becoming a valued member of staff, Amjuly has completed her WSET Level 2, is just about to embark on Level 3, and has her first wine trip under her belt. This may be down to her determination to say “yes” to everything and not let any opportunities pass her by. “When I had the chance to travel with The Wine Merchant to Portugal I was so afraid,” admits Amjuly. “But I said yes, because I always like to say yes to everything because for me it is a learning thing and we don’t have these opportunities in Peru. After the trip I was selling so much Portuguese wine because it is about the connection with the winemaker, the story behind the wine, the traditions and the respect for the product. I understand all this because of my background making cider. I always had respect for the growers, the staff in the factory and for the customers.”

A

fter selling her business and moving with her English husband to the UK, Amjuly was worried she might not find a job in an industry that she enjoyed. But, while waiting for her visa in Peru, she put Google to good use. “I saw that Cellar Door Wines was looking for someone and I thought this is the place I want to be,” she says. “I sent my CV and I remember Penny sent me a really nice email. When I went for my interview I was so worried about my outfit because I thought London is so

glamorous and I have to look smart. I bought high heels because everyone here is so tall, and I am a small little girl from Peru. My feet were in so much pain, so you can imagine how relieved I was when Penny said: ‘No high heels here, Amjuly, because we are on our feet all day and carry boxes’. “Working in a wine shop is hard, but I love it; it’s amazing. I am learning every day and you get to taste this amazing wine. Peru is famous for pisco but I have been looking for wineries in Peru and there are some that are making pet nat wines and interesting orange wines. If I had the opportunity I would try to bring some back to England. All my holiday plans are now about wine.” So, what’s next, Amjuly? “I want to do this for the rest of my life,” she says. “I love working with Penny – I feel a really special connection with her and the way she thinks about business is probably the way I thought when I had my business. Penny is my boss and I try to have that respect but sometimes I see her and I just hug her! Peruvians, we want to be friends immediately with everyone and I have to try to control myself because I am so happy.” Amjuly wins a bottle of Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV If you’d like to nominate a Rising Star, email claire@winemerchantmag.com

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 10


Ripponden reaps rewards of seating

me is the money to redecorate and put

money to add on the finishing touches at

some seating in. I’ve done it for £4,000 and

the end, just to elevate everything.

So based on the first two days, that will pay

invest will be coming in over the first

Ray Nicholls at Ripponden Wine

itself back in 10 weeks.”

few weeks and will go on to be our best

£3,000 of that was for the Bermar machine.

“I’m hoping that all those people who

Company in West Yorkshire has rejigged

The best evidence of its success is the

his shop to include a seating area for 12

customer who came in on the first night.

people and has extended his opening

“He lives locally, but he’d never been in

a separate limited company for The

hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

before,” says Nicholls. “He came along with

Summertown Wine Bar and gone into

one of my regular customers. They had

partnership with a third person. “We have

“Takings are up 25% on Friday to Saturday

a few glasses of wine, then he bought six

two successful shops and the last few years

the previous week and its about 20% of the

bottles of wine, signed up to my monthly

have shown us that you just never know

total takings just for by-the-glass sales. So

subscription service, and said to me ‘see

what is round the corner,” Woodward says.

for a first weekend, it couldn’t have gone

you next Friday’. Honestly, I couldn’t have

better.

scripted it better.”

“I’m over the moon with it,” he says.

customers.” Woodward and Jelley have created

“Michael and I have absolutely no ambition to work at 11pm on a Friday night – we just wouldn’t be good at it. The

“It was an idea that I’d had rolling around in my head for a little while. We do two

key to it was finding someone that would

ticketed tasting evenings a month and a lot

buy into the new business with us. So we

of people buy wine off the back of it.

have a wonderful old colleague and friend, Emily Robotham, who is going to be the

“From there I introduced Sampling

third owner.

Saturday, where I would open a couple of

“She worked with Michael and me at

bottles and have them on the counter and people would come and sample for free,

Majestic and has gone on to run university

and I wanted a way of making this a more

bars and cellars for the last five years or so.

permanent thing.

Her passion for customer service and wine is second to none and she is the perfect

“I liked the idea of a tasting lounge where you could just roll up ad hoc and have a

person to come and work with us, so we

chat with me, be introduced to some new

are really excited.”

wines and hopefully make a purchase.” Nicholls’s approach was cautious. He

By-the-glass sales are now 20% of weekend tastings

listened to his customers it soon became clear that there was a definite hankering for a wine bar, so he gradually grew the

Crowdfunding for Grape Minds bar

idea and started looking at alternatives

Grape Minds in Summertown, Oxford,

to his Coravin. He considered other

plans to open its own wine bar.

preservation systems, including Enomatic, before opting for Bermar. “We spent the best part of four months really trying [the bar concept] out, so it has

feet and on the main Banbury road in Summertown, a location that Woodward

began by introducing a small seating area in the window and added a wine list. As he

The new site is around 3,000 square

Owners Graeme Woodward and Michael

describes as “magical,” and it’s just a three-minute walk away from the original Summertown shop, making all stock replenishment a fairly simple operation. They have also engaged the services of an interior designer. “With the shops, the wine is the focus,” explains Woodward,

Jelley have already secured the building

“and that is also really important in the bar,

and a crowdfunding scheme is underway.

but you have to create an environment that

Woodward says: “We’re looking to raise

is luxurious so that people want to spend a whole evening.

been slowly-slowly, and it’s taken us a little

a minimum of £25,000. My gut feeling

while to get the right model, but so far so

is that we’ll raise a little bit more. The

good,” reports Nicholls.

Summertown community are interested

but if everything goes absolutely perfectly,

and engaged so we’re quietly confident. If

maybe we’ll open in November. We’ll

had any additional staffing costs, I’ve not

we don’t reach the £25k the project still

probably allow ourselves to focus on Grape

moved into bigger premises, so all it’s cost

goes ahead, it’s just that last little bit of

Minds and absolutely nailing Christmas.”

“In reality, it’s still just me, so I’ve not

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 11

“We expect to open late February 2023,


GRAHAM HOLTER

that people are about to feel is only just beginning to dawn. By mid-winter, few of us are likely to have any doubts about the human impact of the abstract numbers we keep hearing on news bulletins. Spiralling energy bills will of course

Editorial There’s a storm on its way, and this time there’s no guarantee it will miss us

hit retailers directly, which is unwelcome news in itself, especially for those who have ridden out a quiet summer and are pinning hopes on a profitable Christmas run-in. And we probably shouldn’t assume that wealthier consumers will all be able to take soaring electricity and gas bills in their stride, either. Economics expert Duncan Weldon wrote in August: “The median income for households in the top fifth of earners

I

in Britain is around £63,000 after t’s not something that wine merchants

tax – affluent, but not rich enough to

tend to crow about, but their

comfortably absorb a £2,500 rise in utility

businesses prove remarkably resilient

bills without cutting back elsewhere.” We are about to find out how many

whenever the economy starts making clanking noises and emitting violent

people in this income bracket really regard

bursts of steam. Recessions don’t damage

wine as a necessity – or at least the sort of

specialist wine shops in quite the same

wine that specialists sell. The worry is that

way as they do other trades.

many will revert to what they can bundle in with their supermarket shop.

The reasons for this are often quoted in wine trade lore. The glibbest, and the

I

easiest to discount, is that when times are hard, people need to drown their sorrows. But there’s certainly truth in the

n last month’s Wine Merchant, Stuart McCloskey of The Vinorium in Kent reported that his business’s average

selling price per bottle has historically

claim that, if wine drinkers are facing a squeeze on their spending, they’ll probably

been £33, but the cost-of-living crisis has

give restaurants a miss and economise

meant orders have “gone through the

by buying bottles to enjoy with meals at

floor”. He said: “Customers who would buy from us weekly have just disappeared

home. It would be unfair to name them, but I have certainly spoken to a number of

Unemployment will increase for the next

… it’s maybe the wider world looking at

wine merchants over the years who will

three years.

those super-premium wines and thinking:

quietly admit that business often booms when recession is biting. There is also a vague sense that

Reliable estimates say that two-thirds of households will face fuel poverty by 2023, with typical annual bills increasing

actually we can’t afford this. It’s a luxury too far.” What can any small independent wine

economic downturns don’t really affect

from around £1,000 in early 2020 to

merchant do in such circumstances?

the kind of consumers who buy from

perhaps £4,400 by the spring of next year.

Making sure the range includes some sub-

specialist wine shops. The average bottle

At the time of writing, the scale of the pain

£10 bargains could be part of the strategy,

price in our sector, according to January’s

but not every business can make the sums

Wine Merchant trade survey, is £15.10,

add up by relying heavily on what most

compared to a market average of £6.35.

specialists would regard as entry-level fare.

Large swathes of the customer base always seem to have money to spend, whatever the economic weather. The Bank of England signalled last month that the UK will enter recession this autumn. Inflation will top 13% and remain at “very elevated levels” throughout 2023.

We are about to find out how many top earners really regard wine as a necessity THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 12

We know that our trade is resourceful as well as resilient. And no recession is ever so deep that people stop buying and selling wine. But anyone who believes that the gathering storm is going to miss them altogether is likely to find their optimism is misplaced.



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customers we could do without

38. Jocelyn Fettinghurst Look, they’ve got that Sauvignon Blanc that Paula really liked … bottom shelf of that fridge … I’ll hold the door and you reach down and get it but make sure it’s from the back ‘cos the ones at the front are probably warmer … if I hold both doors open that’ll make more room for you … I don’t think they go back any further than this … can you see it? Reach right to the back … that’s it … well done, clumsy, knocking all the other bottles over! Is that the one? I think it’s the one. What do you reckon? I dunno. Maybe get two. Another one from the back but don’t let those pink ones roll onto the floor … well, you’ll just have to squeeze though, I can’t open these doors any wider can I … now what shall we get for tomorrow? This fizz looks nice but those ones at the back will be colder … you hold that door and I’ll keep hold of this one … that bloke at the counter keeps giving us the evils but he shouldn’t have so much lukewarm wine in his fridge should he? That’s it, right at the back … maybe take out some of those ones in front of it so you don’t knock any more of them over …

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Congratulations to the five Wine Merchant reader survey respondents whose names were drawn at random

AM ANAand TIaMCoravin, GRwho E courtesy of each win our partner Hatch Mansfield. Can you unscramble these Burgundy Grands Crus? If so, you win a token fungee ball. Peter Fawcett, Field & Fawcett, York

1. Covet Seoul Dog The Wine Centre, Anthony Borges, 2. Lemon Ratchet Great Horkesley, Essex 3. Emu’s Lying Ristanovic, 4.Zoran Cremate Onion City Wine Collection, 5. Coldest SinsLondon Daniel Grigg, Museum Wines, Dorset Riaz Syed, Stonewines, London

THE THEWINE WINEMERCHANT MERCHANTseptember october 2021 2022 14


Partners in Wine JEROBOAMS TRADE AND PORT PHILLIP ESTATE

Port Phillip Estate is one of Australia’s most exciting food and wine destinations. Located on the coolclimate Mornington Peninsula, the domain is a specialist Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir producer love the cool, elegant styles that “areWemade in Mornington Peninsula –

RANGE HIGHLIGHTS

with its maritime climate it’s perfect for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s not a huge area under vine so the wines have a rarity about them that makes them even more special. Lucie Parker, Jeroboams Trade

our wines are entirely domain“All grown, vinified and bottled. We endeavour to grow the highest quality fruit that expresses the terroir of each vineyard. All of our wines convey a sense of the place and the season in which they were grown.

Glen Hayley, Port Phillip Estate

The Port Phillip wines are new to the UK market and we’ve been working together for just over a year. Our buyer Maggie McPherson had a connection with the Gjergja family and Glen Hayley and when we placed more focus on our growing trade division, it made sense to start working with a family-owned winery that fits our buying philosophy. Our portfolio specialised in Margaret River – we are the UK agents for Moss Wood and Pierro – so we wanted to represent the regionality of Australia and something from Victoria was our next step. The Quartier range of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have a friendly price tag and the single-vineyard wines – we’re currently stocking the Red Hill Chardonnay and Balnarring Pinot – offer something more sophisticated. So there is something for everyone who has an interest in Mornington.

Quartier Pinot Gris RRP £20.95

Quartier Chardonnay RRP £20.95

Balnarring Pinot Noir RRP £24.95

Our winemaking philosophy is to best preserve the inherent characteristics present in the fruit, making site-expressive wines of detail and structure. Our practices in the winery are low-intervention, and fermentation of all our wines occurs spontaneously with native ambient yeasts. This is also the case for the malolactic fermentations. The UK is our main export market. Given our small focused production, our wines are well suited to premium on-trade and independent/specialist offtrade channels. Port Phillip Estate is delighted to be part of Jeroboams’ enviable portfolio of well known and respected producers as well as up-and-coming stars. The Jeroboams team across all channels have indepth product, producers, and industry knowledge and relationships. We feel it is a great affiliation.

Published in association with Jeroboams Trade Visit jeroboams.co.uk or call 0207 288 8888 for more information

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 15


VIP VISIT

In association with Champagne Castelnau, Champagne partner of ASO, organiser of Le Tour de France

Front row tickets at Le Tour A Champagne experience on the Champs-Elysées

L

ike a lot of people in the wine trade,

it’s a cracker. It’s the best way to travel, for

Chris Lockett is a cycling fan. He

me, and soak up these regions. I’ve never

actually uses the words “nerd” and

been to Champagne on the bike. There’s so

“geek”, which sound a little more extreme. Either way, when it comes to riding bikes, or watching the pros, Chris is a huge enthusiast. “I’ve been to a few stages of the Tour de France and also the Giro d’Italia so yes, to say I’m a fan would be a massive understatement,” he says. “I first really got into it in 2009 – that

much more to do.”

C

astelnau is the Champagne partner of ASO, organiser of Le Tour de France. Knowing that Chris was

an avid follower of the competition, UK subsidiary Castelnau Wine Agencies – whose portfolio includes a host of European and new world exclusives –

was the Wiggins breakthrough year. He

presented him with a VIP pass to the final

came fourth but he got bumped up to third

stage of the race, in Paris.

because of the Lance Armstrong debacle.

It was, he says, “a fantastic experience”.

It’s just become a total obsession.”

“We were in the same hotel as Team

A few years ago, a friend produced

Ineos, Team Jumbo Visma and Team DSM,”

a beautifully shot film showing Chris’s

he reports. “The place was buzzing and the

scenic cycle commute to his Lockett Bros

atmosphere was electric.

wine shop in North Berwick, which is still viewable on the shop’s website.

“You can’t imagine the excitement I was feeling. I’m such a cycling nerd and I

“Since having the shop we’ve always

was thrilled that one of the other guests,

done cycling tours of western Scotland,

Marcus Treacy from The Killarney Park

visiting distilleries,” he says. “We’ve done a

Hotel in County Kerry, was equally nerdy.

tour across Italy, from Milan across to Nice

So as soon as we got there we necked

through Piedmont – back in 2011, I think.

a beer and a glass or two of Castelnau

I’ve cycled all around Provence. I’ve ridden

Champagne and then found our position on

up Mt Ventoux six times over the years –

the barriers. A couple of hours of absolute

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 16

“Their Brut Réserve was sensational”

Chris Lockett


Castelnau’s keeping ahead

C

astelnau is proud to employ one of the few

female chefs de caves in Champagne, Carine Bailleul,

Left: Chris captures the action on the Champs-Elysées Above: Castelnau’s long lees ageing gives the wines their famous house style

who was shortlisted for Sparkling Winemaker of the Year in the 2021

joy watching the world’s elite cyclists battle out the final and most prestigious stage of

till midnight,” Chris says. “The next morning started with getting

International Wine Challenge. The house style is contemporary

a lift down to breakfast with Sep Kuss,

and Chardonnay-focused, but also

“We were like two little kids leaning over

one of the Jumbo Visma riders and one of

characterised by long lees aging

the barriers to see our heroes cycling past.

the most talented climbing domestiques in

for both non-vintage and vintage

the world. I didn’t lose it, but instead just

Champagnes, which gives body

You see the riders coming right in front of

played it cool in congratulating him on his

and complexity to the wines.

you on that part of the lap and then five

team winning the yellow jersey.

This amounts to five years

any grand tour.

“We couldn’t have had a better spot.

minutes later you see them coming up

“Then we were whizzing our way over

for the non-vintage releases

the other side of the boulevard at the top

to Reims and a 10.30am appointment at

and 12 years for vintages,

end of the Champs-Elysées, where they’re

Champagne Castelnau. Not a Champagne

twice as long as is usually

coming across La Place de la Concorde,

I knew all that well but a thrilling tasting

expected.

and then the far side where you see them

of four of their cuvées quickly converted

going out towards the river again and then

me to their style. Their Brut Réserve was

Castelnau has pledged

through the tunnel and back past us.

sensational.

that all its grape

“They do seven laps so we basically saw

“Lunch at the Bistro des Anges, in the

Champagne

growers will be

them go past 14 times. It couldn’t have

centre of Reims, was magnificent. Snails to

certified sustainable

been better. We had front-row seats and

start, followed by fillet of beef, all helped

by 2025, five years

there was a massive screen right opposite

down by numerous glasses of Castelnau

earlier than the

us.”

Brut Réserve, rounded off the perfect

French government

couple of days.

requirement.

G

etting back to the hotel in time for

“It was nearly as good as being on the

a 9pm dinner reservation turned

Place de la Concorde 24 hours earlier. But

out to be a logistical nightmare

nothing could quite beat that.

in an even busier than normal Paris. “But

“Huge thanks to the whole team

we were all too blissed out to care, and we

at Champagne Castelnau for such an

eventually made it to our bistro at about

incredible opportunity and one that will

9.45pm for beer, wine, great food and chat

live on in my memory for ever.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 17

Champagne Castelnau is available in the UK via Castelnau Wine Agencies castelnau.co.uk @CastelnauUK


ight ideas r b

36: bring your own food David Dodd Tivoli Wines, Cheltenham

In a nutshell: In a twist on the classic restaurant offer to bring your own wine, once a week Tivoli Wines invites customers to bring their own takeaway to enjoy in its upstairs Wine Library. Tell us more … “Firstly, we wanted to drive footfall because unless we are hosting a ticketed event, Thursdays are usually a quieter day for us in the Wine Library. “Also we are very conscious of the cost of living crisis. A lot of people might say to us that we are insulated because we are in Cheltenham, but we’ve lost over 20% of our

competitive with each other and in other

purchasing wine by the glass. We have 32

basket spend so far this year and we might

ways we want to try to work together.”

wines on, so there’s plenty of choice.”

so it does affect our customers. Trying to

Have there been any clear favourites,

Has it been good for business?

reduce the cost of living for our consumers

cuisine-wise?

“If you look at what Majestic and the

is something that is on our minds at the

“I would probably say the most popular

supermarkets are doing right now, it’s

moment and we thought that bringing in

has been the local pizza place. There have

a consistent 25% off. They might not be

your own takeaway is a cheaper alternative

also been a couple of new businesses that

losing too much money on that but it’s

to going out to local restaurants.”

have opened in recent months, including a

certainly the message they want embedded

Vietnamese one that’s been a favourite.”

in their customers’ minds on the lead-up to

be about 10% down on pre-Covid levels,

This sounds like an inventive way to

Christmas. Independents can’t offer 25%

work with other local businesses.

Talk us through the practicalities.

off because we don’t have the margin but

“Well, even though we have said to people

“The Wine Library sits 24 people and

it doesn’t mean we should give up. There

that they can bring food they’ve prepared

we provide the plates and cutlery. We

are other things we can do and this is the

themselves from home, we do try to

encourage people to book but it’s fine for

result of us sitting down and trying to

encourage them to order takeaway because

them to just rock up. In fact some people

come up with other ideas.

those businesses are also feeling the pinch.

do just that, have a glass of wine and then

“I’m part of a group called TURF, which

“Price perception will be key to success

realise that they can order a takeaway, then

this Christmas and we want to make sure

is a really strong collection of independent

in it comes. We might ask the customers

that we are getting out messages now that

restaurants, takeaways and retailers.

what they will be ordering in and then

our customers are front and centre of our

There are about 45 of us in the group and

make some wine recommendations

mind. We have seen some new customers

we are all sharing ideas on how we can

accordingly. We only provide wine through

that we haven’t seen before. It’s definitely

support each other. In some ways we are

the Enomatics on Thursdays, so they are

drawn some new people in.”

David wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and a box of chocolates. Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for you and you too could win a prize. Email claire@winemerchantmag.com

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 18


CALIFORNIAN CREATIVITY Art and storytelling comes to life in one-of-a-kind wines by Orin Swift

Mannequin 2019 Trends go in and out of style but the mannequin remains a constant. Aromas of lemon, jasmine, and a touch of yellow chrysanthemum and fresh cut pineapple. On the palate, opulent juicy peach and nectarine is balanced by an elegant finish of lemon zest, almond praline and toffee. RRP £39.99

Slander 2020 This label goes back to Dave’s time working at another Napa Valley winery. When the winemaking team collected samples, they put a piece of duct tape across the bottle and wrote in Sharpie what was in the bottle. He loved the look and it inspired this label. Black cherry and a touch of minerality. RRP £47.99

8 Years in the Desert 2020 The wine epitomises the Orin Swift style. The aroma suggests raspberry juice and blueberry preserves with a hint of white pepper and forest floor. The perceived sweetness doesn’t carry to the palate, which is lush and enveloping with a beam of acidity. With ultra-round tannins, the wine finishes in slow motion. RRP £47.99

Machete 2018

In association with Orin Swift Cellars

O

rin Swift is a California-based wine label and creative studio. Led by legendary winemaker Dave Phinney, the concept is a collection of art and storytelling that comes to life in one-of-a-kind labels and wine styles. After graduating university a few years after a semester studying in Florence, Dave started working for Robert Mondavi Winery as a harvest worker. It was there he decided that if he was going to work this hard, it needed to eventually be for himself. In 1998, he founded Orin Swift Cellars. With two tons of Zinfandel and not much else, he spent the next decade making wine for others, as well as himself, and grew the company into an iconic wine house known for its uncompromising creativity. Orin Swift wines offer incomparable storytelling behind every bottle, providing a non-traditional offering in the historically traditional luxury wine segment. Dave

and his winemaking team are dedicated to expressing geographic diversity in their sourcing, creating wine blends from a range of California’s premier sites – predominantly Napa Valley. Dave sets his sights on small lots within the most coveted growing regions, ensuring that only fruit of the highest quality makes it to the final blend, resulting in a portfolio that appeals to a variety of senses. Every wine in the portfolio, from the vineyard source to the distinct artwork adorning the label, offers a unique point of view while creating a heart-skipping impression. “There’s a soul to this business,” says Dave. “That soul isn’t just from the people who make wine, it’s from everyone who loves wines that make them feel something.” • Orin Swift wines are available from Enotria&Coe and The Vineyard Cellars

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 19

Inspired by a postman driving an old cop car, Dave Phinney set up a photo shoot using Calistoga’s moonlike landscape as a backdrop for this dynamic label. Out of over 10,000 shots, the final 12 are found on bottles of this intense Petite-Syrah based blend that appears almost black in the glass. RRP £54.99

Papillon 2018 The juxtaposition of delicacy and roughness – the papillon (French for butterfly) alongside the weathered farm hand reflects the nuanced but bold flavours in the wine. Aromatics of kirsch and sagebrush lead to notes of blackberry and liquorice on the palate. A beautiful, complex wine. RRP £69.99

Mercury Head 2019 Orin Swift’s flagship wine encompasses its winemaking philosophy and overall ethos. Adorned with the rare Mercury dime, Mercury Head is a quintessential Napa Cab that speaks to location and overdelivers on quality. The nose of ripe and crunchy blackcurrant recalls the vineyard aromas during harvest, along with some redcurrant, fresh thyme, sandalwood and garrigue. The profound, yet classic, palate expresses blackberry and raspberry preserves, a touch of rhubarb and black tea. RRP £138.99


TRIED & TESTED

Scotchman’s Hill Pinot Noir 2020

Principia Mathematica Vi de Garatge 2020

The Bellarine peninsula near Geelong in Victoria has a

Alemany i Corrió is Catalonia’s original garage winery,

cool maritime climate that, on paper, suits Pinot Noir

working with wild-fermented Xarel.lo from a Penedès

and the proof is right here in the bottle. There’s an

vineyard. It’s a walk on the wild side, with swirling

agreeable earthiness as well as gentle plumminess and

autolytic bakery aromas, zesty lime flavours and

a hint of spice. The kind of wine you could confidently

a nutty undercurrent. You sense that its creators

pour for even the pickiest Pinot perfectionist.

achieved better school grades for art than for maths.

RRP: £29.99

RRP: £21.49

ABV: 13%

ABV: 12.5%

Cachet Wine (07712 676466)

Alliance Wine (01505 506060)

cachetwine.co.uk

alliancewine.com

Domaine de Villargeau Coteaux de Giennois 2021

Château Laurou Absolue Négrette 2019

Giennois doesn’t (yet) have the fanbase of Sancerre or

The Fronton appellation insists that Négrette makes

Pouilly-Fumé and so its Sauvignon Blanc-based wines

up at least 50% of the blend but Guy Salmona – who

still come in at very attractive price points. There’s lots

escaped the world of tech to follow his winemaking

to love here, from the simple, joyful fruitiness to the

dream – goes the whole hog here with a 100%

lime-like tang and the herbaceous details that provide

varietal wine, made organically from a tiny plot. Its

that Loire Valley authenticity.

blackberry, clove and liquorice depths are a delight.

RRP: £15.99

RRP: £22.99

ABV: 12.5%

ABV: 14%

Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)

Daniel Lambert Wines (01656 661010)

daniellambert.wine

daniellambert.wine

Los Haroldos Estate Chardonnay 2021

Lechburg Organic Fetească Neagră 2019

Made with fruit from a range of Mendoza vineyards,

Hailing from Lechinta in Transylvania, this juicy,

this is a beautifully judged and unpretentious style of

succulent but eminently quaffable red is very

Chardonnay, where the acidity, tropical richness and

comfortable in its own skin. There’s natural sweetness

vanilla seem to intersect at the optimal angles. All too

from the medley of red and black fruits that is typical

easy to make disappear before your food reaches the

for the variety, which is not widely appreciated

table, but also a versatile dinner companion.

beyond its Romanian and Moldovan heartland.

RRP: £12.79

RRP: £21.69

ABV: 13%

ABV: 14%

Condor Wines (07715 671914)

Vida Wines & Spirits (020 7965 7283)

condorwines.co.uk

vidawines.co.uk

Clos Cibonne Cru Classé Tibouren 2021

Quinta do Pinto Arinto 2018

Tibouren is an ancient grape variety, a favourite of

the sunshine alive with wines as hedonistic as this

Napoleon, which was almost wiped out by phylloxera

single-varietal from Lisboa, a new entry in the Delibo

but just about clung on in this corner of Provence.

portfolio. An aroma of orange blossom, a palate of

Lithe and silky, with rich red fruit and some black

citrus fruits, just the right degree of sweetness and a

pepper, it’s blended with 10% Grenache for a little

steely, mineral edge, all rounded off by some judicious

extra balance and known locally as Baby Cornas.

oak seasoning.

RRP: £29

RRP: £19.20

ABV: 14%

Summer may be on the way out but we can keep

ABV: 14%

Graft Wine Co (020 3490 1210)

Delibo Wine Agencies (01993 886644)

graftwine.co.uk

delibo.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 20



BITS & BOBS

Favourite Things

Majestic is calling on wine lovers across

sporting events like the Euros final and the

open some 76 potential new stores.

return of the Premier League, are thought

Despite the soaring cost of doing

Vino Gusto, Bury St Edmunds Favourite wine on our list

My answer today is a wicked Muscadet from Domaine Haute Févrie from a single site called Gras Moutons. It has all the zip and saline zing to be expected of identikit Muscadet, but this is a really serious, savoury wine with texture and finesse.

wine retailer said it will continue to invest

10% growth, followed by beer (5%) and

in physical stores.

soft drinks (5%). Wine, however, continues

Following recent store openings in

Favourite wine shop

The shop that instantly springs to mind is Kernowine in Falmouth. It was such a pleasure to stumble upon a brilliantly curated list of classic and leftfield fine wine, and under-theradar value bottles from all over.

to see a decline in sales, down 11% from

Haywards Heath and Godalming, Majestic

three years ago.

is looking for input from shoppers, who

The Drinks Business, August 17

could win a year’s supply of wine if they help it find the perfect shop. This is Money, August 29

New breakthrough on vine disease Wine lovers and vineyard owners can toast a possible fresh breakthrough in the battle against costly grapevine trunk diseases, the authors of a new study have said. New research on grapevine trunk diseases has shown how fungi can collaborate to attack a vine via a kind of “extracellular bomb”. Antioxidants may help wineries to

Favourite wine trip

The person I’d most like to be when I grow up is my old boss, John Hoskins MW. I adore The Old Bridge, his beautiful hotel and wine shop in Huntingdon. John epitomises the truest meaning of hospitality.

Cider is on the up with 12% growth on 2019 figures. Spirits are close behind with

Overthinking a food and wine pairing can be obstructive to the sheer enjoyment you could otherwise find by eating something tasty and drinking something delicious. Give me Neapolitan pizza and chilled cru Beaujolais and I’m a happy boy.

Favourite wine trade person

to be responsible for the spike in sales.

budgets and rising online competition, the

Favourite wine and food match

I haven’t been to Tuscany since before the pandemic and I’m dying to get back there. The classic wines of Chianti have a special place in my heart and it’s rare to feel such genuine warmth and hospitality.

Good weather, combined with major

the country to help it decide where to

business, the squeeze on customers’

Jake Bennett-Day

Magpie

Majestic wants to open 76 branches

fight back, said the international group Majestic’s branch in Henley

of researchers led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

On-trade rebounds but wine is lagging

of growing concern to vineyard owners

The drinks trade is showing positive

International Organisation for Vine & Wine

signs of recovery after the last two

in 2015.

years, with average sales in pubs, bars

Decanter, August 4

Grapevine trunk diseases have been in recent decades. Almost 20% of the world’s vineyards are affected, said the

and restaurants across Britain up 4% in the week to August 6 compared to the

• A delighted mum scored a huge bargain

same period in 2019.

after flogging a bottle of 1982 Château Cos

The latest CGA by NielsenIQ’s Drinks

d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, she won in a

Recovery Tracker has revealed that on-

50p tombola for £185. Kerry Carty, 33, had

trade drinks sales saw the best average

no idea she had won an expensive bottle of

value growth in early August since the

wine at her daughter’s school fair.

Platinum Jubilee weekend in June this year.

The Mirror, August 18

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 22


Investors seek refuge in fine wine

?

THE BURNING QUESTION

I work with many suppliers like Boutinot, Liberty, North South and Hayward Bros. All of them have been very helpful with meeting acceptable order levels. I can’t think of single supplier we work with that hasn’t seen the need to be more flexible around ordering. Wisely they have looked at the economic climate and decided they need to survive too. All in all I am extremely happy with the suppliers we have chosen and feel we’ll take on the financial issues together.

Bordeaux Index, the world’s largest fine wine trader, is toasting surging sales as investors flock to buy rare vintages in part as a hedge against rampant inflation. Revenues at the fine wine merchant reached £80m in the six months to June 30, up 37% on the same period last year. That

£126m. The merchant’s online wine trading exchange, LiveTrade, was responsible for the majority of growth, reporting sales 53% higher than the comparable period last year. Financial Times, August 5

We haven’t enquired, but it hasn’t been offered either. The increased costs affect everyone, so it’s difficult to say ‘I’m not going to pay that, or I need a better deal’. We look at it as a two-way street: we would never really ask too much of suppliers, as it has to be a collaboration. Companies like Thorman Hunt … it’s a privilege to deal with them, they are such nice people and their wines are so good. It’s the same with Alliance and Liberty.

Mark Banham Morrish & Banham, Dorchester

High hopes for low-calorie drinks

I think they generally changed during Covid and it was like,‘any order you want to put in, we’ll support that’, and it seems like most of those changes have stayed. New suppliers seem to have some of the highest minimum orders. I wonder if it’s creating a two-tier supplier agreement: if you’re a longstanding customer they’re like ‘fine, whatever you can order,’ but for new accounts they are more prescriptive.

Low-calorie alcohol retailer Drinkwell has received a £1m investment from a private investor to fuel its ambitious expansion plans. The funding, which will enable Drinkwell

to grow its team while launching two new

Cat Brandwood Toscanaccio, Winchester

brands, Lean Brew IPA and Traces Wine, amplifies the consumer trend for lowcalorie drinks that meet people’s lifestyle needs. Tom Bell, founder of DrinkWell, said: “In recent years the lower-calorie alcohol space has exploded in popularity, due to consumers becoming increasingly health conscious. The data backs up the fact that health and diet are really starting to take precedence amongst most consumers,

Julie Mills Vinomondo, Conwy

puts the London-headquartered company on course to beat 2021’s record revenue of

Are suppliers offering reasonable minimum order quantities?

I think some of them are a bit nervous about the financial environment at the moment and so some are almost encouraging us to order smaller amounts. Short answer is yes, I think they are being more flexible. I think they’re worried about customers defaulting. Some suppliers have offered me a discount if I pay up front, so they are happy to take a smaller margin rather than someone defaulting.

Ashton McCobb H Champagne winner H Appellation Wines, Edinburgh

which brands absolutely need to take note of if they want to not only survive but thrive in a rapidly changing market around lifestyle and wellness.”

Champagne Gosset The oldest wine house in Champagne: Äy 1584

The Drinks Business, August 23

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 23


ANALYSIS

CANCEL CULTURE When it comes to last-minute cancellations, the Covid excuse has become as ubiquitous as the old classic of a family bereavement. Four merchants tell Claire Harries about their experiences. Illustration by Fiona Blair

Deposits, refunds and booking systems

more efficient.

Kent Barker, who runs Wilding in Oxford

of eight or more, and we request a deposit

They’d all paid a £10 deposit and we had to

and Salisbury, and Eight Stony Street in

of £10 per person. We did that pre-Covid

refund every single one. It was horrendous.

Frome, Somerset, says: “We didn’t take

for bigger groups. But if they phone up, as

It took ages just to do the refunding.”

bookings pre-Covid. We put them in place

most people do, and say ‘we can’t come

at vast cost, because booking systems are

anymore because someone’s got Covid’, we

in Hove, East Sussex, has also invested

expensive. But actually we never looked

do a refund. We can’t not.

in a booking system. He explains: “Our

back, because it made life a lot simpler and

“We don’t take deposits unless it’s tables

“In the Christmas week of omicron we

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 24

had 1,100 covers booked in Oxford alone and in 24 hours we lost 800 of those.

Paul Morgan, owner of Fourth & Church

reservation system can be set up to



ANALYSIS

Counting the cost of the no-shows

automatically deduct that money [£20

over the summer she’s found that there are

month, which is a wine tasting at lunchtime

or £30 per head] once we have selected a

plenty of people waiting to fill any spaces

and we do that for between 24 and 32

no-show or cancellation option, but I don’t

left by flakier customers.

people, depending on the event.

set it up that way. I want to discuss the

She says: “We have teamed up with the

“It’s a ticketed event and we charge

situation with the customer who booked

fine dining restaurant next door. On Fridays

between £80 and £120, which is normally

before anything is done and then we make

and Saturdays they do the food and we do

for around six wines with paired courses.

an informed decision.

the drink, which is brilliant. We have had

We are very clear that there are no refunds.

people ringing up about half an hour before

If for some reason they can’t make it then

because it always, always throws up

to cancel. There’s not a lot we can do about

we are quite happy to roll that over as a

another chapter of issues to deal with.

that, to be honest, but we do try to make it

credit to the shop or a credit to dinner or

People can get very hostile with you

obvious that we’re not impressed.

to another event of their choosing, but we

“I very rarely end up taking the deposit,

publically and they never quite give the whole story – they call you out as being unreasonable or mean. It might be via

“It’s only a tiny amount who do that – I’d

don’t give money back.”

say about 5%.” Hayes is less forgiving when it comes to ticketed events. “My big portfolio

Excuses, excuses …

tasting sold out in about three weeks,” she

The general public can be fickle and

Wine Library in Plymouth, says: “We’ve

explains, “and for events I always make

unreliable, so cancellations and no-shows

always had a booking policy. It used to be

them pay up front for a ticket. If they cancel

have always been inevitable. It’s definitely

through the week but now it’s Fridays and

too close to the day, we don’t give them

nothing new.

Saturdays where we ask for a deposit of

their money back and they tend to take it

£15 a head.

on the chin.

social media or just word of mouth.” Fitz Spencer, owner of Honky Tonk

“If they cancel and don’t give us 24

“Usually, if people give enough notice,

hours’ notice then they lose that deposit.

then I can re-sell their ticket, in which case

When they make a booking online our

I’d refund them.”

policy is explained. Most people read it, but you get some that don’t.

Morgan at Fourth & Church says: “We do what we call a Sunday Session once a

“We ask for five days’ notice if it’s a

corporate event booked before Christmas last year and they cancelled so they lost their £1,000 deposit, but they did come and re-book in January-February time.” Ann Hayes at Ann et Vin in Newarkon-Trent, Nottinghamshire, doesn’t take deposits for tables in her courtyard, but

fairly stable”. He says: “In general people are very good and we are very busy so we can normally fill a table with a walk-in. But I’d much prefer it didn’t happen.” “It’s been a strange few months,” adds

corporate booking, and after that the deposit is non-refundable. We did have a

Kent Barker takes the view that while it is an issue, “it’s not a growing issue, it’s

Fitz Spencer. “You can normally understand

“We make it very clear there are no refunds. We’re quite happy to roll it over as a credit to another event” THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 26

and see the pattern throughout the year, but not so much this year. “It’s not just us, it’s the same throughout the town. When we came out of Covid it was like a greyhound coming out the traps: everybody wanted to get out and now it doesn’t help when the government screams doom and gloom out there. The small


micro-businesses are thriving, but we need the public to be confident and keep coming out and doing what they want to do. “People are still blaming some form of Covid when they cancel. If someone has the virus and they’re in a group, I can understand that they may not want to be together.” “People do use Covid a lot,” agrees Paul Morgan, “and they still use family bereavement quite a bit, or ‘my husband has lost his wallet and we’re all looking for it’ – that’s a great one. “Saying that, a lot of people are as good as gold. I’m not going to judge someone on what they are telling me is a lie or not, you just have to navigate the least problematic way. There are ways of meeting in the middle. “When we came out of the pandemic and everyone was loving restaurants and had really been really missing them, they were vocal about how reasonable it was to take a deposit. Now it’s gone back to ‘everything is shit about restaurants’.

Above left: Kent Barker of Eight Stony Street Above right: Fitz Spencer of Honky Tonk Wine Library Middle left: Paul Morgan of Fourth & Church Below left: Anne Hayes of Anne et Vin

“It’s all very boring to have those sorts of conversations with people but I try to explain that if you booked a theatre ticket or an airline ticket, or a hotel room, it’s the same thing. “I also try to say, in a calm way, that if they had turned up for their table and I had not got it for them – if I’d given it to someone else because I thought they were going to spend more money – I would be in breach of that contract.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 27


JUST WILLIAMS

Anger is so infuriating David Williams is a mild-mannered guy, but even he is sometimes consumed by the red mist. Why should wine, of all things, get people so worked up? Shut up and read on, if you must know …

A

little ball of red-haired rage Johnny Rotten

B

once had it, “an energy” that can in some

I’m more interested in the ways anger

circumstances be harnessed to make us

manifests itself offline. In tasting, for

or the world better. The trick is knowing

example. I don’t mean red-faced, apoplectic

when to start and stop. Or, as Aristotle

rage, something that I’ve only ever

put it unimprovably some two and half

encountered once in a tasting setting (and

millennia ago, “Anybody can become angry

which was funny and a little ridiculous

– that is easy; but to be angry with the

rather than disturbing).

nger, according to most psychologists, is not always a bad thing. It is, as that dear

ut, as someone who believes the cartoonish caricatures we all become on social media are a

symptom not a cause of our age of anger,

right person, and to the right degree, and

I mean the kind of tetchy, passive-

at the right time, and for the right purpose,

aggressive, niggly, huffy sort of anger

and in the right way – that is not within

that so often comes out when two people

everybody’s power and is not easy.”

disagree on a wine.

Tell me about it. Tell everybody about

Sometimes, when a disagreement flares

it. We’re all so cross so much of the time. And while it may be possible to spin the

up, it’s not really about the wine. It might Aristotle, or possibly John Lydon

be a battle of egos: how dare you challenge

line that being angry at Putin or Boris

my view, which can only ever be the right

Johnson or the boss of Southern Water or

view since it’s my view, me, the greatest

BP could have the useful role of spurring us

taster who ever lived?

on to political action, for most of us, most

perhaps especially, into our routine daily

of the time, it leads to nothing more than

lives. Even into our generally hospitable

defensiveness or imposter syndrome on

spluttering and muttering, and feelings

and equable wine trade.

one or both sides: I’m out of step with

of impotence and despair. To borrow

Twitter is where the rage is most visible,

Or it might be an expression of

everyone, I look stupid, the only way to

from Aristotle, we might have the right

and “wine Twitter” is a place where the

save face is to double down on my opinion

targets, but berating them late at night on

weird grudges, slights, and aesthetic

and to put the case in an exaggeratedly

Newsnight cannot be said to be using anger

dogma of wine merchants, sommeliers,

passionate way that is totally out of

in the right degree, time, purpose or way.

writers and influencers (so many writers

keeping with my frankly rather lukewarm

Besides, getting cross at politicians and

and influencers) with too much time and

feelings for the wine.

other people in the public eye is only the

too many opinions on their hands comes

start of it. Anger gets everywhere. Even,

into the harshest pixelated light.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 28

But anger in wine tasting isn’t always about interpersonal dynamics and pop-


psychology. You can get angry – or at

is not shared – nay, disputed! – by a fellow

least, I can get angry – at wine when no

taster, the hackles rise, the eyes narrow, the

any human endeavour that doesn’t come

one else is around. Or more precisely, I

lips purse, and the argument begins.

under the category of “life or death”, from

can get angry at whatever vague, abstract personage or business is responsible for it.

But you could say the same about almost

literature and music to gastronomy and football. To an outsider not initiated in

between the quality and the price, an anger

O

that is directed at the cynicism, greed, or

doesn’t spend their life working with

I’d argue (passionately, intemperately)

even delusion of its producers.

and thinking about wine, the figure I

that you’re inevitably going to get roused

would see – the unedifyingly grumpy man

to anger about it from time to time. And,

when all the information I have to go on

raging away at a glass of purple liquid – is

while we might not want to encourage

in is right there in the glass. Too dull, too

ridiculous, entirely out of touch, and very

more rage in an already-angry world,

extracted, too much oak, too “natural”, too

clearly not angry at the right time, and for

provided it’s at the right time and in the

forced, too sickly. On some days these may

the right purpose, and in the right way. It’s

right place and for the right purpose, anger,

raise no more than an irritated sigh. But on

a glass of wine, you absolute lunatic, not

in wine as in everything, can be nothing

others, and most of all when this opinion

some terrible injustice.

more than a sign that you care.

Why am I angry? What, to use the modern parlance, are the triggers? Sometimes it’s to do with a gap I perceive

But the red mist can descend even

f course, if I were to take

the aesthetic disputes of a given field, any

a step back and view this

passionate debate looks absurd and out of

situation through the eyes of

proportion.

a dispassionate observer, someone who

Sometimes, when a disagreement flares up, it’s not really about the wine. It might be a battle of egos: how dare you challenge my view, which can only ever be the right view since it’s my view, me, the greatest taster who ever lived?

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 29

But if you really care about something,


Alentejo, a place where secrets are shared Hundreds of producers in the Portuguese region are working together to make big progress on environmental and social issues, to the benefit of all

P

lenty of wineries would like to operate in a more sustainable way.

can be made. Alentejo began its sustainability journey

ideas and best practice across Alentejo. WASP has developed a knowledge-sharing

as far back as 2013, formally introducing

network to allow good ideas to spread

region comes together, with the same

the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability

quickly. Some of these include the use of

environmental and social ambitions …

Programme two years later. The scheme –

regenerative farming which, in a drought-

that’s when you sense that a real difference

known by the acronym WASP – supports

prone region like Alentejo, is showing

improvements in the way the industry

very positive results. The difference here,

looks after nature, and its people, and at

as WASP manager João Barroso says, is

the same time improves the economic

between “trying to survive in a desert, or,

performance of the region’s wine industry.

thriving in a garden of Eden”.

That’s laudible. But when an entire

In its first year, WASP signed up 93 members. There are now 517, all striving for a more efficient use of resources, the reduction and reuse of winemaking by-products, and a resulting decline in operating costs. Members conduct a self-assessment every year, so that improvements can be made (for example) in the way vineyards understand and deal with pests, or wineries conserve water in the cellar, or businesses recruit and train staff. The emphasis is on sharing knowledge,

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 30

Published in association with Wines of Alentejo vinhosdoalentejo.pt Instagram: vinhosdoalentejo For samples of Alentejo wines, contact Eleanor Standen: eleanor@randr.co.uk


Meet two of the producers

Herdade dos Lagos

Imported by Vintage Roots

Herdade dos Lagos, in the Vale de Açor de Cima within Mértola in the south of Alentejo, had been practising sustainability for more than 40 years when it joined WASP in 2015. Since then, the estate – which is owned by the Zeppenfeld Kreikenbaum family from Germany – has been expanding beyond its organic certification. Planting cover crops has helped its soil’s organic matter content to rise from 0.75% to 4%. Growing olives and carobs, and rearing sheep, has not only stopped the vineyards being a monoculture, but also brought in diverse revenues when wine markets have fluctuated. Controlling irrigation has cut water usage by more than 71% over the past seven years, and seen otters return to the estate’s dams. Four arrays of solar panels have also been erected to produce electricity on site.

HDL Branco 2021 55% Arinto, 25% Viosinho, 20% Alvarinho. Slowly fermented in stainless steel and then left for six months on fine lees with occasional bâtonage. Passion fruit, pear and lime characters, with refreshing, spicy grapefruit.

HDL Tinto 2020 60% Syrah, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 10% Touriga Nacional. Aged for six months in stainless steel with 10% of the wine maturing in French oak. Notes of cranberry jam and cherry blossom. Silky, dry tannins.

HDL Touriga Nacional 2018 Aged for eight months in stainless steel with 10% of the wine maturing in French oak. Complex, with aromas of black fruit, jam and cocoa. Velvety, balanced and slightly spicy, with a flavour reminiscent of ginger,

Herdade de Coelheiros

Coelheiros.pt

Seeking UK distribution

Herdade de Coelheiros has converted 48 hectares of vineyard to organic farming and has used no herbicides for the past five years, with the amount of copper used on each hectare falling from more than 2kg in 2020 to 0.97kg in 2022. Grass has been seeded or has grown spontaneously across 51 hectares. The estate has installed 68 bird and bat boxes, with 23 of them occupied. It has also monitored birds of prey in the vineyards, ranging from resident species such as buzzards, kestrels and tawny owls through to summer visitors including black kites and booted eagles, and winter migrants like red kites. Thirty-six flowmeters have been fitted around the vineyards to monitor water consumption by the vines. The estate is also working on four sustainability projects with the University of Evora, ranging from biodiversity and ecosystem studies through to a doctoral thesis.

Coelheiros White 2021 80% Arinto, 20% Antão Vaz, from vines at 300m altitude. After fermentation begins in stainless steel, 30% of the must is fermented in French oak and left on fine lees. Fresh, balanced and exuberant.

Coelheiros Rosé 2021 100% Syrah, grown on granitic soil, again at 300m altitude, with a high clay content and low fertility. As with the white, a portion of the must completes its fermentation in barrel before some fine lees ageing.

Coelheiros Red 2021 50% Touriga Nacional, 50% Touriga Franca. The wine ferments in stainless steel and is left on its skins for five days, before a year of oak ageing. Concentrated but fresh, with up to eight years of ageing potential.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 31


SPONSORED EDITORIAL

PERNOD RICARD EDGES OUT LIBERTY WINES IN CHARITY THRILLER Fun in the sun at the Pol Roger Touch Rugby Tournament in aid of the Drinks Trust

The victorious Pernod Ricard team

O

n August 11, Pol Roger

Each game was played over 10 minutes

Barbarians FC, Gilbert Rugby, St Paul’s

Portfolio hosted a touch rugby

in a rugby sevens format, refereed by

Cathedral, Charlie Allen as well as all the

tournament in order to raise

former professional rugby players Nathan

teams, and refreshments provided by

Hines and Jack Clifford.

Timothy Taylors and Igo Wine.

funds for The Drinks Trust. In total, £3,205 was raised for the charity,

After a pools championship round,

With the tournament growing in size

the largest sum so far in the history of the

Pernod Ricard, Jascots, Liberty and Moët

each year, Pol Roger Portfolio looks

competition. With 18 teams attending,

Hennessy progressed to the semi-finals,

forward to hosting again next year on

this was the highest attendance at the

before a final game between Pernod Ricard

August 10 for more wine-trade sports fun

competition since it began four years ago.

and Liberty. A tightly contested match

and to raise even more money for charity.

The teams comprised members of the

ensued, and Pernod Ricard won out under

Details for submitting teams will be posted

wine trade, from companies such as Rémy

the August sun, triumphing for the second

closer to the time.

Cointreau, Freixenet Copestick, Jeroboams,

year in a row.

Lanique Wines, Jascots, Moët Hennessy,

The games took place at Barn Elms

Pernod Ricard, Liberty Wines, Berry Bros

playing fields, with Barnes RFC hosting

& Rudd, Stannary Wines, Hallgarten &

a post-match raffle to raise funds for the

Novum, Maison Marques et Domaines and

Drinks Trust.

Lea & Sandeman.

Raffle prizes were contributed from the

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 32

www.polroger.co.uk 01432 262800 Twitter: @Pol_Roger


Could Greek wine be on the verge of achieving something big in the independent trade? Maria Moutsou sees no reason why not. In association with Southern Wine Roads

Greece is the word

G

reece is finally on the independent trade’s radar. In The Wine

make into a finished product.” Maria is a firm believer that, even in the

“Our first PDO classification system was formed in the early 70s,” Maria says. “The

Merchant’s most recent reader

distant past, Greece had the terroir and the

first modern winemaker to study oenology

survey, just over a third of respondents

grape varieties to make high-quality wines.

outside Greece – in no less a place than

named it as one of the most exciting wine

As she points out: “Greece was very good

Bordeaux itself – was Lefteris Glinavos,

producing countries, placing it in sixth

at producing sweet wines, and back in the

with whom we collaborate. He still heads

place in the top 20.

19th century there was a big export market

the winery, in his mid 90s, together with

For Maria Moutsou, the wines of Greece

for Mavrodaphne and sweet Muscat wines,

his son Thomas.

have always been a passion. A Greek native,

and Vinsanto from Santorini was known to

“On returning to Greece, he established

she founded Southern Wine Roads in 2014,

be exported to the courts of Europe during

his winery and bottled his first ‘personal’

convinced that the UK market deserved

the Middle Ages under the Venetian rule.”

wine in 1978: a light sparkling rosé wine

Political turmoil in the 1970s set the

called Lady Frosyne, which is still going

access to a wider range of wines from her homeland. “More or less every family in Greece has a connection to a vineyard,” she says. “What fascinates me about wine is the

industry back, but by the 1980s a new

and which we import, following the local

breed of young winemaker was starting to

tradition of sparkling wines that dates back

emerge, often educated in overseas wine

centuries in the region of Epirus.”

schools. And as wineries modernised and

relationship with the land, the experience

vineyards were replanted with the help

of living the seasons, with something that

of EU investment, the scene was set for

takes a whole year to develop agriculturally

Greece to claim its rightful place among the

and then perhaps many more years to

world wine elite.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 33

E

very year, Southern Wine Roads puts a special marketing focus on two native Greek grapes, one white

and one red.


Vakakis Ti Amo Sparkling Muscat Blanc “Muscat being such a long living and fascinating grape variety, it has produced many different styles of wine, from sparkling to sweet. This one is like a Moscato d’Asti: a Charmat method sparkling wine with lovely mousse, delicate sweetness and low alcohol from a stopped fermentation. It’s the perfect companion to parties.”

This year has seen the turn of Roditis and Mavrodaphne, both of which were featured in a recent online tasting for independents run in partnership with The Wine Merchant. Next year attention will turn to Avgoustiatis (“such an interesting grape … it has the character of a Tempranillo

Vakakis Pythagorean Theorem Dry Muscat Blanc “In some PDO areas Muscat must be made only into sweet wines. Samos is one of the exceptions, expanding the offering of wines made on the island. This is a great dry example from vineyards in the Fterias area, at 800m altitude and with sandy clay soils. The yield is low and the wine has a refreshing acidity.”

or a Sangiovese, but more intriguing and delicate aromas, often floral, including violets and desiccated roses”) and Muscat, which has been one of the most praised Greek grapes throughout history and the most decorated one, claiming no fewer than six PDO designations, more than any other Greek grape variety. “Muscat is an amazing value grape, very appealing; ancient and modern at the same time, versatile, and it performs beautifully

Vakakis Kalypso Under Sea Aged Dry Muscat “This is an experiment continuing the trend for under-sea wine ageing of the past 10 to 15 years. The wine matures for two years 20m under the sea, where the temperature is cooler and more uniform, and light reach is limited. This is another example of the innovation that is happening in Greek wineries right now.”

Papargyriou Blanc Dry White Blend “A versatile 50-50 blend of Muscat and Assyrtiko from a family winery. The grapes are cultivated at 850m in limestone soil in the northern Peloponnese. The Muscat is very fragrant and prominent on the nose, very lifted and delicate. The Assyrtiko gives body and alcohol. Both have high acidity and the combination is simply genial.”

Garalis Terra Ambera Amphora Muscat of Alexandria “This is made by a more delicate Muscat variety from the island of Lemnos. It doesn’t have the linearity of Muscat Blanc but the aromas are exotic. Made by a natural wine producer, it spends 45 days on its skins in amphora, the clay vessel adding layers of warmth and earthiness.”

in its home,” Maria says. “The word Muscat comes from the Greek word μόσχος, meaning fragrant. “The variety originates from the eastern Mediterranean and more specifically the island of Samos. “Muscat is not only the grape with the most PDO classifications in Greek wine but the one with a multitude of regional names,

why Greece shouldn’t emulate some of the recent UK market successes of Portugal. She is hesitant to offer generalised advice

showing how popular and interwoven

to any indie thinking of expanding their

with people’s living it has been. Of those

Greek range. “You have to take every case

names, about 15 are now commonly used

on its merits,” she says. “Each merchant

throughout Greece, from Thrace to Crete

has its own clientele, priorities and the

and from Samos to the Ionian Sea.

individual preferences of the owners and

“The Muscat varieties found in Greece

staff.” But the SWR teams stands ready

are mainly Muscat Blanc, which is the

to guide Greek wine novices through the

dominant one, and Muscat of Alexandria,

process.

with anecdotal plantings of Muscat Ottonel also reported. “Muscat blends are an amazing way to enjoy the grape in wines made to

What are Greece’s most exciting wine regions right now? “It’s difficult to give one single answer,” she says. “I used to say, as a joke, that you can have

accompany food, as they offer the

a vineyard on your balcony in Greece, and

opportunity to combine a generous

it would produce something interesting.

nose with a more substantial body and a

You can find a plethora of microterroirs

matching, refreshing acidity, as we see in

a stone’s throw from each other. For

Papargyriou Muscat Blanc.”

example, if you are in the Peloponnese

S

you might think there should be some outhern Wine Roads is steadily

uniformity of terroir, but you can get into

increasing its trade with the

another enclosure between mountains

independent sector as more

within 80km or100km and then you have

merchants take a more serious look at

totally different climate influences: wind

what Greece has to offer.

reaching from the west rather than the

According to Maria, there is no reason

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 34

north, the concentration of humidity being


Vakakis Pythagorean Pyramid Muscat Blanc & Muscat Noir “A double-bill rosé wine made with black and white Muscat grapes. The must stays for a couple of hours with the grape skins and then ferments at low temperatures to create an exceptionally fruity and aromatic wine. It has the most exotic nose you can find, loaded with rose petal aromas and notes of pomegranate and quince.”

Vakakis Pythagorean Cup Semi-sweet Muscat Blanc “A versatile wine, thanks to its generous grapey and summer fruit flavours, high acidity and residual sugars, which create the perfect balance to allow it to be enjoyed throughout a meal. It’s ideal with charcuterie and patés, as well as light desserts, on its own or as a mixer for dry sparkling wines.”

Vakakis Filion Vin Doux Muscat Blanc

different and the flora and fauna becoming very local and distinct.

In association with

“Greece might not look big on a map, but I always say it’s big in its detail.

“This wine style is the most popular and the most exported out of Samos. It’s made by stopping the fermentation with spirit at 15% abv to achieve the desired residual sweetness and capture all the grapeyness, summer fruit flavours and a hint of nuts. Perfect with Christmas pudding and all kinds of brioche and panettone pastries.”

“I think Greek wine definitely deserves more attention to this intrinsic detail and to its vast winemaking history. There is so much depth and variety in winemaking right now in Greece, and a lot to discover

maria@southernwineroads.com southernwineroads.com Telephone 07775 714595

for novices and fans alike.” Maria Moutsou started the Southern Wine Roads business in 2014

Vakakis Pythagorean Epogdoon Barrel Aged Muscat Blanc “A very serious sweet wine, made from older vines at 650m altitude. After meticulous selection, grapes are laid to dry in the sun then gently pressed, delivering a dense must that ferments with its own yeasts. The wine matures in French oak for 12-18 months. A rich wine with a broad palette of flavours.”

Vermood Bianco Muscat Blanc Vermouth “Muscat Blanc still wine (from within the PDO Muscat of Rio) is distilled with citrus fruit peels, herbs and spices to create this sublime drink. Producers of sweet Muscat are experimenting with other styles in order to diversify their offer. I love this over ice. The alcohol level is low (18%) so you don’t really need a mixer.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 35


Merchant Profile: Brigitte Bordeaux, Nottingham

“To accompany the monthly tastings he used to write a blog and he had a nom de vin, Corkmaster [taken from the honorary name of the head of a

A steep learning curve, even for a teacher

snooty wine group in the US sitcom Frasier]. “He told me I needed to come up with a wine name to write the blog. We were batting names around – Marilyn Merlot, things like that – and Matt, my partner, came up with Brigitte Bordeaux. I was calling myself that writing the blog for a few years.” Teaching began to lose its lustre after Kat had her first child in 2015. “I was finding the workload too much,” she says. “Before having kids I’d quite happily spend all day on a Sunday marking books.

Like her former pupils, Kat Stead has had to work hard to get the results she was hoping for – in her case at the wine shop and bar she opened in November 2018

something in wine. I wasn’t quite sure what but, as I’d been a teacher, I thought maybe it would involve wine education. “But the dream was to open a place like this, though I had no idea how to go about doing it.”

By Nigel Huddleston

T

“I started saying to people I wanted to do

So how did you go about it? We moved close to here in 2017 and we were he allure of wine tempts people from all

out walking – it was a really cold dark January

sorts of professions into running a wine

afternoon about four or five o’clock. We passed by

shop. Kat Stead was an English teacher

and saw the building was up for sale. It was an old

in a secondary school when a chance encounter

antique shop. The way it was laid out was ideal,

at a wine tasting in a Nottingham restaurant set

because my dream was to have the shop in front

in motion a chain of events that ended with her

and the bar behind.

opening the wine merchant with the best name

We spent the whole of 2018 taking two steps

derived from a sixties French actress/classic wine

forward and one step back. We couldn’t get a

region pun.

commercial mortgage because the business wasn’t

Brigitte Bordeaux is a cool-looking hybrid with

up and running. We got turned down for planning

a great garden, in a Victorian property on a main

permission at first because we had residents

arterial road out of Nottingham, north towards

either side. We had to go and sit down with the

Mansfield. It’s a little off the main drag, but just

planning officer to convince him we were opening a

a hundred yards away the road turns into a busy

reputable establishment with well-behaved guests.

high street with a mix of shops and cafés, indies and the odd chain, including Wetherspoon’s, which

Was there ever a thought of giving up?

has taken over half of one of the city’s busiest bus

We got halfway through 2018 and it looked like it

depots. Known as Sherwood, the locale is a destination spot that also caters to two residential areas: the affluent Mapperley Park and the not-so Carrington. Kat’s encounter at the restaurant, back in 2012, was with Laurie Moran, who ran the Wine in Nottingham enthusiasts’ group. She joined the club, started studying for WSET qualifications and eventually agreed to co-run it as Laurie was spending a lot of time in France.

“We had to go and sit down with the planning officer to convince him we were opening a reputable establishment with well-behaved guests”

wouldn’t happen, but by that point I’d decided I was going to do it somewhere, wherever it was. Because it was taking so long, the vendor put it back on the market at one point and we were looking at other premises. Eventually we got permission but we had lots of conditions. Initially, we were only open until 9.30pm at the weekend but we’ve managed to change that to 11pm now.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 36

I spent the autumn term teaching and trying to


Kat Stead, Sherwood, Nottingham, July 2022

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 37


get this place set up and get funding. I got turned down for my start-up loan while the workmen were mid-job, so it was all a bit stressful. But I’m really glad I did it now, looking back. So you didn’t buy the property outright? We ended up buying the flat upstairs and taking a lease on the ground floor, with a really good deal on the rent and an option to buy the ground floor at a later date for a fixed amount. We got a really great deal but we also put a lot of money into doing it up. We opened on December 14, 2018, and I finished teaching the following Friday. There was a lot of initial interest, because we were new, and then days at the beginning of January 2019 when there were no customers. But it gradually built up. Then early 2020 happened. The pandemic was a whole different way of doing things. Before the first lockdown was announced we started offering deliveries even though we didn’t have an online store. That was more of a long-term plan. What was the design approach with the physical

We could have stayed open but we decided to close and we were at full capacity with deliveries.

shop and bar?

It went absolutely mad. I did call-forwarding from

We’ve kind of gone with the French thing: it’s red,

the shop phone to my mobile, and from late March

white and blue, and the red is a kind of wine colour.

through to May this place turned into a warehouse,

We scoured all the auction houses for furniture and

with boxes and boxes of wine. All my suppliers were

the maps on the wall, picking up various things. The

wondering why I’d gone from ordering really small

tiles in bathroom and the backroom were what we

amounts of wine to huge orders.

were putting in our dining room at home.

We used to deliver to some people two or three

I was in Green Man Wines in Dublin and they had

times a week who we’ve never heard from since,

tables made of wine boxes. That gave us the idea

and lots of customers discovered us through that

for our tables which are basically IKEA tables with

and have stayed with us. That pushed us to get the

wine boxes cut up to make the tops.

online store up and running. And how did you go about filling the shelves? I just emailed a list of wholesalers and suppliers from my living room on my Hotmail account – and got two responses. Enotria and Liberty were the ones that got back to me, so when we opened it was just with the those two, plus our own-label. How did that own-label wine come about? When I did my WSET Level 2, I met these guys who The outside seating

had a place in Bordeaux and wanted to import their

area extends the bar’s

neighbours’ wines. We drove out there, tasted the

seating capacity

wines, and they were really great, and, brilliantly,

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 38


Enotria and Liberty

Maltby & Greek, Marta Vine for Portugal, Dreyfuss

were the company’s

Ashby for South Africa and the Loire.

original two suppliers. These days there

What do you look for in a wine or a supplier?

are about 16 on the

Interesting wines from new regions and different

roster

grape varieties. Obviously the wines that you’re mad about are not always going to be the best sellers in the world. But if I really love a wine I’ll end up putting it on the shelf. Even if it’s too obscure or expensive we’ll still end up selling a bit of it. I like to have a broad range and some niche things, but for most people who come here the average bottle spend is £12-£15. Price point is important at the moment, particularly with the cost of living. We can’t compete with the supermarkets on price and people come here for the experience – but it’s good to be able to offer good value. I’m always on the lookout for a really good bottle of wine that’s around that £10, £11, £12 point. There are certain wines that sell themselves and others that you have to work a bit harder to convince people of. Do you have a favourite region or country? Do

we found we could put our own labels on them. It

you feel obliged to say Bordeaux?

was really cheap as well. We had those as our house

No, it changes all the time. At the moment, I really

wines for the first year but unfortunately they

don’t have a favourite, though we’ve probably got

stopped importing them. We’ve been searching for

more French stuff on the shelves than anything.

something to replace it since then, but we haven’t

We’ve got some really interesting Greek stuff,

come up with anything so good.

Hungarian stuff … those countries that have their own indigenous grape varieties are quite

Have you consider shipping wines yourself?

interesting. Italy is so vast and varied. That’s the

We’d like to start. I’m having French lessons to try

great thing about wine; I like most of it.

to make that easier when it comes around. What’s the best thing about running a wine How has the supplier base expanded?

shop?

Initially, the rep from Enotria saw an opportunity

I love thinking of new things to do – tastings

and basically came and stocked my shelves for me.

and promotions. We do online and social media

When we opened it was about 75% Enotria, and

giveaways and the like. We get involved in things

25% Liberty. It’s so different now. When we first opened we probably had three or four facings of each wine, but now we don’t do that because we have many more wines. But Enotria have always been good to us and they have some great wines that are still some of our bestsellers. We’ve probably got 15 or 16 suppliers. I’m a sucker for discovering new wines and suppliers and we use a lot of specialists like Best of Hungary,

“Obviously the wines that you’re mad about are not always going to be the best sellers in the world. But if I really love a wine I’ll end up putting it on the shelf”

like International Sherry Week, Bordeaux Wine Month and 31 Days of Riesling, to get people excited about wines they may not otherwise be. We’ve done quite a few Greek tastings recently, with wine clubs and societies. I started off working with Best of Hungary after a tasting The Wine Merchant magazine

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 39


There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment. What are the biggest challenges facing businesses like yours? The cost of living and people’s disposable income. We are a bit of a premium thing. That’s why it’s really important to have really good value wines on the shelves, wines for under £12 that don’t price people out of the market. If we can get a good deal we pass it on to our customers. When you’re a public sector worker, you think people who run their own business automatically make lots of money. But you discover that’s not how it works at all. The bills keep coming in. You think you’re doing OK and you get a fat bill. But that’s aIl part of the enjoyment as well – the reward. We’re very lucky, touch wood, that we have a great customer base. We’ve got regular customers who are only shop customers and we’ve got others that are only bar customers, and some who are both. Our tasting events are very popular and we’ve got people who come to probably over 50% of them. We get to know people and become part of the community. You can go to the supermarket and spend six quid on a bottle of wine. If you come here there’s a lot more choice and better wine, and you also have a chat and get a different experience. and, on the back of that, we had some Hungarian

So having got this far with the business, are

winemakers who did an event in our garden, which

there things you wish you’d done differently?

was really successful.

Nothing major jumps out. It’s a constant learning curve. I’m really bad at saying yes to everything and

Your location is near a lot of money in

doing tastings for free and that sort of thing.

Mapperley Park. Have you tapped into that?

“When you’re a public sector worker, you think people who run their own business automatically make lots of money. But you discover that’s not how it works at all”

So many people tried to scare the living daylights

I’ve started a wine club: on the last Monday of

out of me in the run-up to opening with that intake

the month we deliver a case of wine. Quite a lot of

of breath and “do you know what you’re doing?”,

subscribers are in Mapperley Park, but it’s also the

making me think it was attempting the impossible. When I was applying for a start-up loan from First

sort of area where people might have their own cellar and buy from Berry Bros. It has a residents’

Enterprise they wanted a 25-page colour business

association and we did their Jubilee thing at the

plan. They asked me what experience I had and I

local cricket club. Things like that are good to get us

told them I’d worked In Wetherspoon’s when I was

noticed.

at university. I remember sitting there at midnight

We thought it was going to be cancelled because of the apocalyptic weather forecast. Then we heard

getting pictures of fridges off the internet at midnight to put into the business plan. When you’re in the middle of that, people suggest

mid-morning that it was going ahead, so we were a bit annoyed that we had to go and do it – but it was

things that are massively important that turn out

worthwhile because lots of people came out and

not to be. I could quite easily have let people scare

drank Nyetimber.

me into not doing it. But here it is.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 40


DUNCAN MCLEAN

British wars with the French were of great help to Orkney. Rather than risk the dangers of the English Channel, shipping would go “northabout”, around the top of the country. Trade routes from London, Hull and Leith on the east, and Glasgow, Liverpool, and Cardiff on the west, all

Northabout A long tradition of fine wine and exotic food has its roots in wars with France

passed these islands. Stopping to refuel or shelter from bad weather was a frequent occurrence. Scapa Flow is, after all, the biggest and safest natural harbour in northern Europe. International shipping often docked too, whether to pick up supplies before a long ocean journey, or to recruit crew – Orcadians were born sailors. So, it’s no surprise that, when money started flowing into the islands due to the export of cattle and other agricultural products in the 1840s and 50s, enterprising Orcadians set up businesses to capitalise on the availability of, and taste for, exotic food and drink. We have receipt books going back to the 1860s showing sales of Champagne, claret, and any number of obscure fortified wines as well as coffee, preserved fruit, and even pasta. For a while the shop advertised itself as an “Italian Warehouseman”, the generic name for fine wine and food shops before “delicatessen” entered English usage. The biggest change since 1859 has been the democratisation of wine. It’s no longer the preserve of the landowners and lairds who came up to their island summer

The shop pictured circa 1910

T

houses for a spot of hunting and fishing and ordered a few cases of Mr Kirkness’s excellent shop-bottled Margaux or Haut

he Orkney Islands might seem

by bridges or ferries. It wasn’t always that

Sauternes. What was that exactly? I don’t

a surprising place to find one

way. Until the mid-20th century, the sea

know, but we still have the loose labels.

of the longest-established wine

was a much quicker and more reliable

It’s true, the islands are popular with

merchants in the country. But Kirkness &

way for freight and people to move long

the upper middle classes of Islington

Gorie is busier than ever, 163 years after

distances.

and Morningside, but our shop can’t rely

its opening was announced in the pages of

So it was that Orkney – 20 miles off the

entirely on their short-season custom.

The Orcadian in June 1859. It’s still in its

north coast of Scotland – established itself

Like the four generations of the family

original location in the heart of Kirkwall,

as an unusually open and cosmopolitan

preceding us, we see local trade as our

opposite St Magnus Cathedral, and still

trading centre a thousand years ago, and

bedrock: farmers of cattle, fish and wind,

owned and run by the same family.

has remained so ever since.

butchers, teachers, and traffic wardens.

Which shows either remarkable

(Actually, we don’t have any traffic

persistence on our part, or a terrible lack

wardens.)

of ambition. For a century or so, we’ve thought land travel the best way to move freight across the country. Big stretches of water, fresh or salt, are obstacles that must be overcome

After 163 years, I think we’re just about

The biggest change since 1859 has been the democratisation of wine THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 41

working out how to keep them happy. Duncan Mclean is proprietor Reggio Emiliaof Kirkness & Gorie, Kirkwall


SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL The team behind Frederick’s Wine know all about working for big wine companies. But their heart lies in sourcing limited-production wines from sustainable, family growers that will appeal to indies

Y

ou can tell when someone loves their job. Guy Smith, like the other two members of the Frederick’s Wine team, has worked for some big companies in the drinks industry. But, chatting from an old cider cellar on a Somerset farm, dog sleeping not far from his feet, you sense that he’s found his spiritual home. Like partners Stuart Bowman-Hood and Will Willis, Smith worked in various high-profile beverage businesses, handling upscale wines as well as mainstream brands, before establishing Frederick’s in 2018. (The name was borrowed from Smith’s faithful black Labrador, who lived a happy life roaming the small vineyard which is also part of the set-up.) “We’ve all worked for big corporations and we’ve all done massive projects but at some point you’ve got to go back to your heart and soul,” Smith says. “So we are working with family growers, pretty much all organic – certainly sustainable – and we simply choose wines that we love and that we believe in.” Frederick’s is now ready to introduce the portfolio to the independent trade. The team talk a lot about their “hearts ruling their heads” with the way the business is run, joking that if some of the limited-

edition wines don’t do as well as hoped, the directors – and their friends and families – will happily snap them up for their personal enjoyment. Yet there’s a sense that the range has been more carefully assembled than that would suggest. In addition to importing wines, Frederick’s is also creating some of its own unique labels. “We have been so involved with NPD, winemaking and blending,” Smith says. “It’s something we still want to do, so one of our points of difference is L’Entente. “It’s a bit of an umbrella brand. It’s all organic and vegan, and we’re just about to do a bee-friendly certified wine, biodynamic, sulphur-free … it’s really focusing on trying to do the right thing, and we have producers who want to do this with us in France, Spain and Italy. The idea of developing our own brands is really exciting and goes a long way to satisfying our creative urges.” Smith also sits on the board of WineGB and makes wine from his small Somerset estate under the Smith & Evans name. He produces a craft cider too – “we’re in Somerset, so it’s the law” – labelled as Hunky Punk. Aside from the sustainability credentials, is there any other theme running through

From left: Guy Smith, Stuart Bowman-Hood and Will Willis

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 42

the wines that Frederick’s offers? “I would say we all go for freshness, nothing over-extracted. And that sense of place is best represented by family ownership. This is really important to us as it means we are always working with the decision-makers who are ultimately building their dream, which we all want to share in. “Fratelli Fanucci (vignano.com) is a great example of this: three brothers who have returned to their native Tuscany to produce fantastic organic wines, not just Chianti. Everything has a little family twist.” The company has clearly not gone overboard with its overheads, and has a small staff. But Smith insists that the team stands ready to help its independent customers above and beyond offering keen pricing. “We want to be at as many events as possible so we do want to help with tastings in shops – and so do our producers, who want to come over and meet people,” he says. “We have a minimum order of 10 cases of six and if someone goes much larger than that then we’ll be flexible: if it costs less to transport then we’ll charge them less. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible because we’ve all been there. I’ve run shops, Will’s run shops and in fact in our cellar door we have a wine shop. “Everyone’s costs are going up and we know that keen pricing and sensible stockholding are the key to supporting the vibrant independent sector, and cash flow will be tight for the foreseeable future. “We’re never going to compete on entrylevel but that’s not really our thing. Our opportunity is offering unique, familyowned wine gems, often never seen before in the UK. It’s real hand-picked, handchosen, hand-sold wine.”


SOME KEY AGENCIES Passel Estate, Margaret River “Wendy and Barry Stimpson grow Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon on this 6ha estate, which also includes a western ring-tailed possum sanctuary (hence the name Passel, the collective noun for possums). They are aiming purely for quality. “There’s a French phrase – ‘if you put your hand in the vineyard, it will take your arm’, and I think that applies to them. Wendy and Barry bought a house in Margaret River, then a bit of land, and then in 2011, when a vineyard came up for sale, they bought the whole estate. “Focusing on small quantities of seriously great quality wines which are regularly awarded internationally, this is their first foray into UK and we are all super-excited to be their partner.” passelestate.com

Des Annereaux, Bordeaux “We have an exclusive on this. It’s organic and unbelievably good. “It comes from a single organic plot called L’Ane Mort (Dead Donkey) in Lalande de Pomerol. Don’t let the name put you off, this is delicious. It is owned by the Hessel family who have been at Annereaux for centuries. One of the reasons the wine is so good is that it contains 2% Petit Verdot which adds grip and freshness. It’s beautifully balanced and so great to drink on release, but will also age.” annereaux.com

Aegerter, Burgundy “The fact that we could get hold of a Burgundy producer who could do the whole of the region amazed us. The maison is based in NuitsSaint-Georges. These passionate people are daring enough to leave the beaten track and offer all consumers, beginners and experts alike, carefully picked selections, new blends and different bottles.” aegerter.fr/en Château La Sable, Luberon “We were introduced to Virginie and Jean Marc by Guy’s cousin and once we tried their organic wines we just had to buy them. The first vines were planted in 1967 on steep slopes at 250m above sea level. The sandy soils lend themselves not only to the name of the estate but also the incredible freshness and expression of pure fruit flavours.” chateaulasable.com/en Jesus Madrazo “Jesus was the winemaker at Contino for 17 years. His father founded Contino so his family is one of the founding families of CVNE. He chose us because he’s known us for over 20 years. He is rightly considered one of Spain’s leading winemakers, with a worldwide following.”

Lozano Family, Rioja and La Mancha “Founded in 1853 in Villarrobledo, La Mancha and now in its fourth generation, at a large, modern, state-of-the-art winery, Jaime Lozano just wants to make something that is exceptional and new to this market. With grapes sourced mainly from their own vineyards, Lozano have been shipping bulk and bottled wine here under various labels for decades, but their Rioja is new and they have some amazing 80 to 100-year-old viticultural stock.” bodegas-lozano.com/gb Julia Kemper, Dão “Julia is a real live wire, a real experimenter and very high profile in Portugal and a lot of export markets, but she hasn’t done much here yet. From high in the mountainous Dao region, Quinta do Cruziero has been part of the Melo family for more than 400 years. Now farmed biodynamically, the wines are so focused and refined and wellnoted by international wine critics. This is a real find for us.” juliakemperwines.com

Sponsored by Frederick’s Wine frederickswine.com 07823 344173

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022The Newington Green store has “a nice kitchen vibe” 43


COMPETITION

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE AND WIN WBC PRIZES Can you find all 10 differences between the two pictures opposite? If you can, you could be among the five readers who win one of five prizes generously provided by WBC, the trade’s trusted supplier of wine boxes, packaging materials, shop display equipment and so much more

PRIZE 1

PRIZE 4

100 x personalised six-bottle jute wine or beer bags, printed in two colours on one side. Made from sustainable jute with a wipe-clean, strong laminated lining. Your branding, message or artwork will be applied to the side in spot colour. Value: £550

VacuVin retail kit. Exclusive to WBC, this wine accessory countertop display contains Vacuvin’s best-selling accessories. These include 12 wine save stoppers (sets of two); 11 active wine coolers (silver); 10 wine saver pumps and stoppers; and nine winged corkscrews. Value: £230

PRIZE 3 72 rolls of personalised tape printed in two colours. This 50mm tape is a great way to get your brand onto your packed items. Available in PVC-Poly and paper, to suit a wide range of packing needs, giving your packaging a polished and professional finish. Choose from white, kraft or clear. Value: £200

HOW TO ENTER PRIZE 2 Pulpsafe transit packaging. WBC’s famous Pulpsafe system offers the highest levels of protection for shipping your bottles. It also boasts the greenest possible eco-credentials and is a cinch to use. Its flexible nature allows for some variations in bottle shapes and sizes that more rigid material wouldn’t accommodate. Value: £250

Mark all 10 differences between the two pictures, on image B, using a Sharpie pen or similar. Take a clear shot of your edits and send it to claire@winemerchantmag.com with the subject line Spot the Difference. Make sure to include your name, address and business details. Correct entries received by the closing date of Tuesday, October 4 will be entered into a draw with five winners selected at random. Ts & Cs: This competition is jointly organised by WBC and The Wine Merchant. ONE entry per business. Retailers only. Entries received after October 4 will not be considered. No correspondence will be entered into. Winners will be named on November 15.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 44

PRIZE 5 Mathusalem Sommelier Champagne sabre. The ultimate Champagne accessory, helping to carry on the tradition of sabrage. Comes with a rosewood handle and supplied in a wooden presentation box. Value: £120


A

B

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 45


ANALYSIS

Beyond Burgundy Short harvests and spiralling prices aren’t making life easy for Burgundy lovers. So why does the trade persist, and what are the alternatives? Graham Holter reports

F

the state of play with Burgundian

increasing demand, smaller harvests and

secondary market, have told me their cellar

wines can be challenge, since a

inflation, the outlook isn’t too promising.

is now ‘too expensive to drink’ – which

buy and enjoy them. That situation looks

rising costs. The real difficulty is securing

unlikely to improve any time soon.

stock.

orming an educated opinion on

dwindling number of us have the ability to

The 2021 vintage is being described as a

Jason Yapp of Yapp Bros adds: “With

“I think people are pretty sanguine about

“According to a specialist Burgundy

customers, on finding out prices on the

perpetuates demand, regardless of price. “So we still sell all our allocation from Rousseau, Roumier, Coche-Dury and Lafon. Dauvissat Chablis is more sought-after

“classic”, which may be good news for those

buyer I know, the entry-level price for

than ever, as is Leflaive Puligny at every

– like Tom Innes, of Burgundy specialist

Burgundy is now £26 a bottle.”

level. Nearly every bottle of Côte de Nuits

Fingal-Rock – who were alarmed by the

on our list currently sells for three figures,

“super-ripe” reds that 2020 produced.

yet nothing is older than 2014.

“A very small harvest, pitiful quantities,

“Somewhere in the UK there is someone

some some extraordinary levels of alcohol,

wanting to buy an expensive Burgundy

and lots of colour – more like Rhône than

from our website at least weekly, and they

Burgundy,” was Innes’s take.

do.”

So there may be more typicity in the 2021 wines. But savage spring frosts contributed to another Burgundy shortfall and prices are only heading in one direction. Burgundy fans, it seems, should

Burgundy isn’t offering value for

Jason Yapp: “The difficulty is securing stock”

be braced for more disappointment. “We’ve seen the Burgundy market

F

or those who conclude that money, what are the alternatives?

Yapp Bros has been “sourcing some great Pinot Noir from other locations, like the

At Tanners, private sales director Robert

Pfalz”.

change dramatically in the last few years:

Boutflower believes that “the writing

It’s a part of the world that is also

prices have risen exponentially, and

has been on the wall for a decade that

performing well for Howard Ripley.

allocations have, for the most part, been

Burgundy is mostly poor value”.

drastically reduced, in some cases by over

So why does it have such enduring

80%,” says Sebastian Thomas, buyer for

appeal? “Because worldwide demand for

Howard Ripley Wines.

wine in general, and by extension top-

“The sought-after growers are pretty

end wine like Burgundy in particular,

immune to price hikes, but there is some

simply outstrips supply, so the trade has

price resistance at the less glamorous end.

continued to sell it,” he says.

However, diminished quantities mean that

“Top-end Burgundy is all about the

little is left unsold. How long that continues

growers and their reputations, much

– in a vintage like 2021 for instance, which

more so than most other regions, and new

is perceived as difficult – remains to be

money seems to come in when existing

seen.”

customers drop out. Several historical

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 46

“The writing has been on the wall for a decade or more that Burgundy is mostly poor value … demand simply outstrips supply” Robert Boutflower, Tanners


Top left: A junction in the Côte d’Or Bottom left: Vineyards in the Pfalz

in the Pfalz, Lehnert-Veit on the Mosel, Braunewell in the Rheinhessen. “Quality is on the up, as you’d expect from the increasingly warm weather in these northern climes. But it is far from the only place, and we have had success with Land of Saints in California and Illahe in Oregon, as well as Rippon, Black Estate and Felton Road in New Zealand.” Even Patagonia is on Lea’s Pinot radar. The company has achieved “remarkable success” with the Chacra wines of Piero Incisa della Rochetta, “which far outstrips the volumes of all our German Pinot”. Boutflower at Tanners is hesitant about nominating viable Burgundy substitutes. “We’ve been here before,” he says, “with New Zealand and Oregon, let alone Germany and Romania. “It’s not helped by Pinot being inclined to change its style in other countries. “We’ve got a magnificent Slovakian entry. But they are all a bit of a hand-sell, a

Sebastian Thomas. “It’s not surprising

C

‘trust-the- merchant’ purchase, and come

offer” – including, in some cases, value for

assessment of the 2021s this autumn.

that our sales of the considerably cheaper

money. Indeed he argues that there are

“Some growers seem to be happy with

German wines have increased: in the last

“Bourgogne rouges which regularly trump

what they achieved,” says Charles Lea.

two years we have seen 75% growth in dry

the latest ‘exciting’ wines from elsewhere”.

“It’s always a bit of a mistake to pre-

“Climate change and greatly increased know-how mean that Germany consistently produces excellent reds and whites,” says

whites and reds. “German Pinot Noirs are filling the price gap left by Burgundy, and demand is particularly strong for them. As a result, we

harles Lea, director of Lea

with their own baggage. ‘Germany? Is that

& Sandeman, believes that

Liebfrau Pinot Noir, then?’”

“Burgundy still has a lot to

Even so, Lea & Sandeman is quite excited

Burgundy importers will make a proper

judge the quality level, even if we know

about some of the Pinots it is discovering

that quantitatively the 2021 harvest was

beyond Burgundy’s borders.

poor to disastrous for some. We look

“Yes, Germany is one place to look for

forward to our tastings in October and

have taken on four new growers this year,

value Pinot,” Lea says, “and we import

November when we will get a good look at

and will start with five more next year.”

several which have a following: Petri

the wines.”

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 47


THE DRAYMAN

The Belgian brewer Rodenbach, whose Grand Cru is beer-world royalty, is among the most celebrated users of foeders for lengthy maturation, which can in some cases stretch from months into years. The wood harbours natural yeasts that

Foeder for thought Wood-aged beers demand a slower approach from volume-hungry brewers

contribute to tartness, acidity and grip in the beer. Normally, a brewery will have one or two such giant barrels to ensure achieving the consistency of style that they are known for. But experimentation is very much the modern way, as we know, and New Belgium Brewing in Colorado is one that’s famed for its use of big oak outside of Belgium, its so-called “foeder forest” of differing barrel shapes and sizes each delivering its own subtle spin on the foeder style. The foeder is catching on in a small way among some of the UK’s best brewers. Sour beer specialist Burning Sky in Sussex, Manchester’s IPA evangelist Cloudwater and London hop variety explorer The Kernel have all deployed foeders to create some of their most enchanting brews that enhance and exaggerate their house styles.

The foeders at Rodenbach

Belgium’s De Ranke has

T

taken foeder use way out there

numerous variations on IPA are just some

colliding in a foeder on occasion. Belgium’s

of the beer styles that have been subject

Three Fonteinen brewery makes a beer

to next-big-thing speculation in recent

co-fermented with Dornfelder grapes in a

years, sometimes with justification, but

foeder as part of its extraordinary range of

frequently without.

sour beers.

here’s often an impatience in the

too, with an imperial porter – Back to Black

beer world to find the coming

– that’s spent nine months in oak.

major trend. Saison, goze and

The worlds of beer and wine are also

However, some beer styles should

In addition to the barrel infrastructure,

demand attention not because they’re

foeder beers require a commitment

about to change the brewing landscape,

to time, setting product aside for sale

but because of their inherent mystery and

months and years down the line, a given

magic. It would be wrong to pretend that

in wine and whisky but alien to much of

foeder beers are going to transform the

the brewing world, where a culture of

market any time soon, but they’re worth celebrating just because of what they are. A foeder (from the Dutch, and sometimes seen as foudre in its French variation) is essentially a large oak barrel, of up to 600 litres, the construction of which is a particular specialism of certain cooperages.

The wood harbours natural yeasts that contribute to tartness, acidity and grip in the beer THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 48

churning out volume for short-term sale gains takes precedence. And with a certain unpredictability about the outcome, using foeders is an inhibiting leap of faith for all but the bravest in the industry. But for those that do take the brave step – and their drinkers – it’s a patience that brings rich rewards.


THE WINEMAKER FILES //

Martta Reis Simões

Quinta da Alorna, Tejo wine region I have always been involved with the vineyard, being the granddaughter of farmers. Every year I participated in the harvest at home. Later on, my father became especially interested in wine and opened a wine store. Wine was always a constant presence. At this stage, when I was 16 years old, I began to find the whole world of wine fascinating and two years later I started my oenology degree. I am not from the Tejo region. I came to Quinta da Alorna at the invitation of the winemaker and general director at the time, Nuno Cancela de Abreu. We had worked together in Bucelas in the Lisboa region, years before. When the opportunity arose to join the Quinta da Alorna team, I immediately accepted. Quinta da Alorna stands out, not only for the quality of the wines it produces at the estate, but also for its agricultural, forest and natural spaces. The estate is located on the south bank of the Tagus River, near Santarém, with the entrance marked by one of the world’s rare trees, known as Bela Sombra [“beautiful shade” in Portuguese]. We have a total area of 2,600 hectares, divided into 160 hectares of vineyards, 500 hectares dedicated to agricultural crops and about 1,900 hectares of forest. This forest area also helps to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. In addition, there are currently six photovoltaic power plants on our property.

I don’t have favourite grape varieties, but if I have to name a few, among the white ones, Fernão Pires, Arinto and Sauvignon Blanc; for the reds, Castelão, Tinta Miúda and Touriga Franca. There are two words to describe the Alorna winemaking style: fresh and elegant. We have always looked at oak as a complement, to enhance the primary aromas of the wine. So the choice of suppliers of barrels, the different types of oak and toasts, has always been very precise. Tejo has definitely seen changes in the past decade. There has been remarkable joint work done by the CVR Tejo and its producers, very focused on promotion and marketing at a national and international level. The Fernão Pires grape variety, for example, has once again been given some limelight in the wine world thanks to an ongoing campaign in recent years. Tejo in the last 10 years has improved quite a lot. People understand how to make good wines and how to present them in the market. They have to understand what the market is looking for but the wines also have to have character. The Tagus is the great dominating element of the region, starting with three distinct types of soils. Then the climate: the river manages to moderate the temperature. The days are hot but the nights are cool.

Sitting majestically in the Tejo region, Quinta da Alorna has a wide array of vineyards which are worked in a sustainable and socially responsible way, looking after both the land and the workers. Chief winemaker Martta was named as the best young winemaker of Portugal in 2012. Wines imported by Alliance Wine

At Quinta da Alorna we have vineyards in two of these soil types. For example in the Charneca, where we have the largest area of vines, there are very poor soils, with lots of sand and pebbles. The wines have a unique freshness and elegance.

Quinta da Alorna Reserva Arinto & Chardonnay

Marquesa de Alorna Grande Reserva White

Quinta da Alorna Touriga Nacional Red

This wine is a classic from Quinta da Alorna. The blend of Arinto, a Portuguese grape variety, and Chardonnay has been a winning bet for over 20 years. The two varieties complement each other perfectly.

Marquesa de Alorna is the product of unique weather conditions and a selection of the best grapes. Six varieties gave rise to this 2017 vintage, coming from different terroirs, between Charneca and Lezíria. This wine is a tribute to a very important woman in the history of Portugal.

Made exclusively from Touriga Nacional, a Portuguese variety with a distinctive and unique aromatic profile, this wine represents the elegance and freshness of the Charneca.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 49


COUNTRY FOCUS

Barnaby Eales believes independents should take a fresh look at a country where the winemaking scene is changing

Eastern promise How demand is slowly building for Turkish wines

T

he popularity of Turkish

bottles of Turkish wine of 35% to 40%,

restaurants in the UK has given the

outstripping any other wines on its shelves.

country’s wines plenty of on-trade

Specialist Turkish wine importers

exposure, but they remain pretty much

Winehouse Warwick and Taste Turkey

invisible in the independent off-trade.

both talk about increased demand among

Yet Turkey’s dazzling plethora of

the trade and consumers, with interest

indigenous grape varieties and styles offers

sparked both by holidays in Turkey and

plenty of opportunity for indies looking to

dining experiences in restaurants in the

build difference into their ranges.

UK.

The aromatic profile of the white grape

This year has already seen the arrival

Narince and Pinot Noir-esque Kalecik

of one new Turkish wine specialist on the

Karasi both make for food-friendly

retail landscape, with the coffee/wine

varietals.

shop Dharma Coffee opening in Hove

There’s joy to be found in blends too. The

and Richmond, west London. It is hosting

vibrant and fleshy Büyülübağ Vedat Millor

Turkish wine tastings and has plans to sell

2018, imported by Gama UK, brings the

online.

structured, bold tannins of the Bogazkere

On a visit to Winehouse Warwick, I

grape together with the soft fruitiness of

tasted new wine releases from Chamlija,

Okuzgozu.

including Turkey’s first Assyrtiko, an

Bath-based Novel Wines reports interest in producers such as Kayra and Chamlija, with by-the-glass sales playing

outstanding wine with lush, bright flavours of lime, cucumber, and a river-long finish. Turkish reds were once viewed as

an important part in converting customers.

indulgently-oaky, to suit the domestic

Novel quotes repeat purchase rates on

market, but Chamlija’s Marcel Biron

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 50

Below: Late afternoon in Istanbul


Left: Pruning at Kavaklidere Below: Street coffee in Istanbul

2020 is far from that, its perfumed spice

and, often, wild yeasts, to make softer

of product, but in difficult times there

and silky tannins a characteristic of the

wines. When making fresh and fruity white

are plenty of obstacles for it overcome if

indigenous grape variety Papazkarasi,

wines from native grapes, Törüner abstains

we’re to see more Turkish wine in the UK

which the producer has reintroduced to

from using oak to allow the flavours and

off-trade.

the hills around Thrace in the west of the

aromatic profile to shine.

country, where it planted vines in 2010. “I have waited 10 years to get this quality,” says owner Mustafa Camlica.

Chamlija’s winemaker Selin Özdemir

Government support for exporters is thin. Having hit producers with a ban

Baran is one of several women winemakers

on alcohol promotion and advertising in

making fine wines from specific plots of

2013, it piled on a near 50% increase in a

Alp Törüner, owner of Büyülübağ, has

vines found at high altitudes across the

“special alcohol consumption” tax this year.

been making wine on the island of Avsa in

diverse, mountainous regions of Turkey.

VAT and excise duty are already high and

the Marmara Sea, off Istanbul, since 2005. For reds, like the island’s native

Turkish winemaking in general is becoming more geared to suit the palates

inflation hit 61% in March. A 44% fall in the value of the lira against

Ada Karasi variety, Törüner uses slow

of contemporary, international drinkers,

the dollar hasn’t translated into a big

maceration, gentle extraction, no enzymes

with American, French, and Italian

increase in exports, as producers often

consultants playing a part in viticulture

trade in other currencies.

and production.

Turkish winemaking is becoming more geared to suit the palates of contemporary, international drinkers, with American, French, and Italian consultants playing a part

Smaller, quality wineries have emerged

With no public aid to promote wines, Turkish producers are at a disadvantage

and the big guns of Doluca and Kavaklidere

against those from, say, Greece or Georgia,

have developed their own ranges around

whose government offers substantial

native grapes. Turkey has the fifth largest

support to export and promote wines.

vineyard area in the world and is thought

But that shouldn’t put off retailers

to be home to between 800 and 1,200

looking for unusual wines that already

varieties.

have some on-trade traction from the

The country has a lot going for it in terms

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 51

Turkish restaurant boom.


MAKE A DATE

Vintage Roots Trade Tasting

Yapp Bros Autumn Tasting

Vintage Roots will be visiting London

The Wiltshire importer will be

and Bristol showcasing a selection of 80

showcasing 50 to 60 wines from its list.

organic, biodynamic and natural wines,

These include a combination of Yapp

including new finds for 2022. The company will also be showing a selection from the its festive offers. Two producers – Barone Pizzini (Franciacorta and Maremma) and Domaine Paul Mas (Languedoc) – will be in

call 0118 932 6566.

Around 50 wines from the region

classics from the likes of Jean-Louis Chave

will be on show, and a dozen visiting

and Domaine Graillot, and exciting new

winemakers will be leading an exclusive

wines from both the traditional French

tasting.

heartlands and further afield. Contact Simon Stuart: simon@yapp. co.uk.

attendance. Register at trade@vintageroots.co.uk or

Languedoc Tour Trade & Press Tasting

There will be a mix of wines already available in the UK and others seeking representation. Highlights of the event include

Tuesday, September 27

interactive wine talks on the terroir and

The Groucho Club

sustainability of the Languedoc region and

London W1D 4QB

a photography exhibition by artist Georgia

Monday, September 26

Glynn-Smith.

London Canal Museum

For more details and to register, contact

12-13 New Wharf Road

mbourgeois@sopexa.com.

London N1 9RT Monday, October 3 Tuesday, October 4

The Stables

Paintworks

1 Park Village E

Arnos Vale

London NW1 7PX

Bristol BS4 3EH

Top Selection Portfolio Tasting A walk-around tasting of 150+ wines with a focus on the autumn and festive period. Top Selection will be launching three

Hallgarten & Novum Regional Tasting Along with more familiar wines

Moreno Wines Portfolio Tasting Moreno will be showcasing all its favourite producers along with the new agencies it has recently brought on board. Music, oysters and jamon will all play

new agencies: Maison Lavau (Rhône),

from the portfolio, the team will be

a role in the proceedings, the organisers

Domaine Mia (Burgundy) and Tenuta Di

showcasing some of their more recent

have promised.

Sesta (Montalcino), with the winemakers

finds from around the winemaking

also attending.

world.

To register, email matt@topselection.

To register, contact sarah.charlwood@

Moreno, known for its Spanish Wines, is now part of the same group as Boutinot. To register, email sales@moreno-wines.

co.uk.

hnwines.co.uk.

co.uk.

Tuesday, September 27

Monday, October 3

Tuesday, October 4

IET

La Mimosa

The Roundhouse Camden

2 Savoy Place

3 Thompsons Lane

Chalk Farm Road

London WC2R 0BL

Cambridge CB5 8AQ

London NW1 8EH

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 52


The Boscaini family: Alessandra, Sandro, Bruno, Mario, Giacomo, Raffaele and Anita

Masi’s 250th Anniversary Celebrations

Thorman Hunt Portfolio Tasting Following on from the London tasting

Grands Chais de France Private Wine Days

This event will be celebrating 250 years

at 67 Pall Mall, Thorman Hunt is going

GCF will be showcasing the best bits

since the first Boscaini grape harvest in

on the road with its autumn tastings to

from its entire portfolio in London, as

the Vajo de Masi vineyard.

Bristol and Manchester.

well as launching its on-trade Signature

The walk-around tasting will feature all

It will be introducing new agencies as

five Masi estates – Masi Agricola, Serego

well as showcasing a selection of seasonal

Alighieri, Canevel, Conti Bossi Fedrigotti

favourites.

and Masi Tupungato – and will be a journey

Contact vanessa@thormanhunt.co.uk.

from Masi’s roots in Valpolicella Classica,

Range of 22 top properties. Other highlights will include awardwinning properties in Chile, Spain, Germany and Hungary. A crémant from every French producing

across the Veneto, to its pioneering,

Tuesday, September 27

region will be on show, as well as a range

organically-run estate in Argentina.

Paintworks Event Space

of zero alcohol wines and spirits. GCF’s

Bath Road

winemakers will be present, to shine a light

pierato@berkmann.co.uk.

Bristol BS4 3EH

on their respective regions of France.

Tuesday, October 4

Tuesday, October 4

Carousel

Salut Wines

Tuesday & Wednesday, October 4 & 5

19-23 Charlotte Street

11 Cooper Street

10 York Road

London W1T 1RL

Manchester M2 2FW

London SE1 7ND

To register, contact Elisa Pierato: elisa.

Registration: emma@eviva.co.uk.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 53


MAKE A DATE

Rías Baixas Showcase & Masterclass This is a chance to taste a spectrum of styles from the region, from classic Atlantic-influenced Albariño to leesaged whites, blends, traditional-method sparkling wines and some rare Galician reds. The Art of Ageing masterclass will be led by Sarah Jane Evans MW. For further details and to register, contact alison@dillonmorrall.com. Monday, October 10 The Great Hall One Great George Street London SW1P 3AA

Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés Tasting A number of the region’s châteaux will

Albariño grapes growing on a pergola in Rías Baixas

be presenting wines from a selection of recent vintages. They include Château Branaire-Ducru, Château Canon, Château Canon La Gaffelière, Château Gazin, Château Guiraud, Château Léoville Poyferré, Château Montrose, Château Pontet-Canet, Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Smith Haut

Beaujolais Colours Trade & Press Tasting

Lafitte. For further information contact celine@ otaria.co.uk. Tuesday, October 11 Church House

This is an opportunity to discover or rediscover the region in a walk-around tasting and through three masterclasses hosted by Victoria Daskal, Anne McHale MW and Emily Harman. To register contact mbourgeois@sopexa.

More than 100 Beaujolais wines will be

com.

featured at this tasting and producers will be on hand to talk about the fruits

Thursday, October 13

of their labours.

Town Hall Hotel

There will be a mix of wines that are

8 Patriot Square

Dean’s Yard

already imported and some that are

Bethnal Green

London SW1P 3NZ

looking for representation.

London E2 9NF

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 54


Sud de France Top 100 Discovery Tasting An event to bring together the new lineup of the 100 winning wines from the 10th edition of the Sud de France Top 100. Visiting producers, including

The View

Adelsheim Vineyard, Domaine Serene and

38-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

many more.

London WC2A 3PE

Oregon Wine Board Tasting Oregon is a world-class wine region with over 900 wineries and more than

independent boutique wineries as well as

1,000 vineyards growing 72 grape

acclaimed negociants and cooperatives,

varieties.

will be on hand and there will be an extra

To register, email owb@wearelotus. co.uk.

Yet 70% of these wineries produce fewer

Monday, October 24 US Embassy 33 Nine Elms Lane London SW11 7US

Taste Napa Valley Napa Valley Vintners will be showcasing

100 cuvées covering the whole of the

than 5,000 cases of wine annually. So the

a number of wines in London and

Occitanie region available to taste. This

message is very much small production,

Edinburgh.

year, 60% of the selection is seeking UK

high quality and big impact.

distribution, while the rest is available within the UK. For more information and to register, email Sebastien du Boullay: sebastien. duboullay@occitanie-london.com. Tuesday, October 18

At this tasting there will be

For more information and an invitation, contact, uk@napavintners.com.

representatives from more than 25 Oregon wineries pouring more than 75 different

Monday, October 24

wines.

London (venue TBC)

Wineries represented will include Citation, Chateau Bianca, Three Feathers,

Wednesday, October 26

Stoller Family Estate, Solena Estate,

Edinburgh (venue TBC)

Vines in Oregon’s autumn sun

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 55


The Vindependents tasting takes place on March 21

O

n Sunday they closed the whole

wee prance, but the customers kept coming

of the Great Western Road to cars

in almost as if they didn’t need to drive in their comfortable little boxes to get here,

and we had a Picnic Lunch in the

middle of the lumpen road outside the

although thanks, customers, for navigating

shop, because obviously no cars meant no

the endlessly unhelpful, expensive and

customers.

entirely impractical public transport

We had a fennel salami that Jordan had cut up all nice from the Hippy Shop, a delicious razorsharp baguette from Rottencake, a perfect bit of Brie de Meaux all mouldcrust and teeth-buzzing yellow, and Jordan said “isn’t cheese the best?” and I nodded, my entire head singing and reeling from the throb of a sensation like stopping falling upstairs. There were perfect Scottish Strawberries that weren’t half rotten gifted to us which we ate greedily, the juice rolling down our

22. RECLAIMING THE STREET What would life be like without cars? Would nature heal and might citizens tap into a serene, strawberry-scented higher plane of wisdom? Phoebe Weller of Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow is about to find out

“system” that feels like Glasgow City Council is, how do you say, having a laugh. No we won’t open the subway after six on a Sunday because you should not be going anywhere at that time on the Sabbath – this is Scotland. What a relief it was to not have the endless line of traffic sitting there, burning old silty plankton right outside the front of the shop, frustrated by their inability to move but not frustrated enough to get out of their cars, demand better public transport or balance on two wheels to get them from a thing to a thing or to

young chins and all over our fingers before

buy a thing or to see a thing.

miraculously disappearing, leaving us

somehow we were also in shade and the

unsticky and satisfied as if we had had a

tarmac gave way to warm white sand

At first, the human beings couldn’t

magical shower with no wetness.

dryly dribbling through my toes. I said

really handle the new-found emptiness

something wise and true and hilarious and

of the road but rather kept to the narrow

The sun beat down on the road but

Jordan laughed with doe-eyed

path between Eddie (who has dropped

appreciation at my wiseness

the “godblessya” from his dirge, leaving

and trueness. We drank demi-

an awkward but welcome empty moment

sec Champagne, which lifted

after his request for change) and the

our spirits and relaxed our

Hippies’ extensive fruit and vegetable

bellies and necks but did not

display. Later, humans were spotted

inebriate us one whit. The

tentatively toeing the Car Domain and

afternoon passed gently, with

exploring the elemental crags of its

a soft breeze generated by

surface. But it was too late. One tanky

multiple and varied butterflies

smokedwindow 4x4 broke the rules,

and kingfishers and bigger-

screamed down the road and the spell was

than-average bumblebees that

broken.

beat their wings kindly to cool

Vineyards in the Hunter Valley

Maybe there is a bright new future where

our warm but not overheated

everyone stops atomising themselves in

brows.

the comfort of their leased cars, where

No, wait, that’s not true. On

unarmoured humans could amble, prance

Sunday they closed the whole

and just enjoy being for a little while – not

of the Great Western Road to

rushing to somewhere or from somewhere,

cars and we thought about

just enjoying being. It might even be one

having a picnic in the middle of

where Jordan likes cheese, but maybe that

the road and even managed a

is a dream too far.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 56


Frio white wine decanter with ice bowl By filling the detachable bowl with ice before placing the decanter on top, the wine will be gently chilled while aerating. Not just for white wines either: a little warm water can be

SPICED RUM SIDECAR

added to the bowl to help reds reach their ideal serve temperature. Water or ice aside, there’s nothing to stop you adding fairy lights instead. Waitersfriend.com £65

Magnum gift boxes This 100% recyclable magnum gift box is new to the market from WBC. With a textured finish and luxury envelope closure, it will keep wines and Champagnes safe and secure with premium strong card and a featured

The Sidecar is a much underrated and under-made classic that’s most usually associated with Cognac. But, as we head into autumn, this variation deploys an altogether hipper spirit. The myriad rums on the market allow ample room for experimentation to try to find the perfect base, while the spice elements nod towards forthcoming Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations.

5cl spiced rum 2.5cl Cointreau/triple sec 2.5cl freshly squeezed lemon juice Caster sugar Wedge of lemon

bottleneck holder. Maximise its full gifting and e-commerce potential by pairing it with shredded paper and the recommended shipping outer to keep it safe in transit. Starting at £2 excluding VAT, magnum gift boxes are available in black or cranberry and can also be printed on for corporate gifting or customised randing. WBC’s full range of off-the-shelf protective packaging, wine boxes for bottles is in stock now and available for next-day delivery. wbc.co.uk

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 57

Spread the caster sugar on a saucer. Rub the lemon around the rim of the glass and dip the glass in the sugar to make a coating on the lip. Put the rum, triple sec and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and garnish with another lemon wedge.


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

condor wines Henge Court Thame OX9 2FX 07508 825 488 orders@condorwines.co.uk www.condorwines.co.uk Condor_Wines Condor.Wines condor_wines Condor Wines

richmond wine agencies The Links, Popham Close Hanworth Middlesex TW13 6JE 020 8744 5550 info@richmondwineagencies.com

RWA invites you to our Autumn Portfolio Tasting in Bristol Date: Tuesday 27th September 2022 Time: 10am to 4pm Venue: The Airstream | Main Courtyard | Paintworks Event Space | Bath Road | Bristol | BS4 3EH Please RSVP to tim@richmondwineagencies.com and we very much hope to meet you there!

@richmondwineag1

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 58


LOUIS LATOUR AGENCIES

Introducing Smith & Sheth The brainchild of Steve Smith MW and Brian Sheth, Smith & Sheth is a contemporary negociant. Both partners share a love of wine and an affiliation to New

12-14 Denman Street London W1D 7HJ

Zealand, and their aim is to create something truly exceptional, selecting only the best fruit from differing terroirs in Heretaunga (Hawke’s Bay, pictured) and Marlborough. Some highlights:

0207 409 7276 enquiries@louislatour.co.uk www.louislatour.co.uk

Cru Wairau Sauvignon Blanc. An old-vine Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from Marlborough’s gravelly Wairau vineyards, along with fruit from the cooler clay soils of the southern valley hillsides. Aromas of lime and passionfruit; a refreshing salty acidity. Cru Heretaunga Albariño. An Albariño from Howell Vineyard, located on the southern borders of the warm Bridge Pa appellation which features stony red tinged soils, infused with calcium, fed by a natural stream flowing through limestone hills nearby. Notes of peaches, salty air, and honeysuckle. A great accompaniment to seafood. Cru Heretaunga Syrah. An expression of two sites: Mangatahi, offering cool-climate fruit, and Omahu, adjacent to the Gimblett Gravels, giving exceptional ripeness to red grapes. Naturally balanced, with juicy raspberries, black pepper, and a touch of anise. Steve Smith MW will be in the UK this October.

hatch mansfield New Bank House 1 Brockenhurst Road Ascot Berkshire SL5 9DL 01344 871800 info@hatch.co.uk www.hatchmansfield.com

Please join us f r Hatch Mansfield Autumn Tasting

Tuesday 20th September 2022 at the Tower of London 10am to 6pm

@hatchmansfield

Please register soon because space is limited francescaamato@hatch.co.uk STRICTLY TRADE AND PRESS ONLY

THETHE WINEWINE MERCHANT MERCHANT september june 20222022 59


SUPPLIER BULLETIN

gonzalez byass uk

Gold Medal winning Chardonnay

The Dutch Barn Woodcock Hill Coopers Green Lane St Albans AL4 9HJ

Whitehall Chardonnay, Elgin, South Africa 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards 2022 Gold medal 95 points An opulent nose shows tart tatin, caramelized apples, and crème brûlée.

01707 274790 info@gonzalezbyassuk.com www.gonzalezbyassuk.com

International Wine Challenge 2022 South African Chardonnay Trophy & Gold medal 96 points Pure, intense and refined Chardonnay that wouldn’t look out of place in the Cote de Beaune. Nuanced oak with patisserie and citrus peel flavours with lovely definition supported by chiseled acidity.

@gonzalezbyassuk

VIEW OUR DIGITAL PRODUCT CATALOGUE ON YOUR PHONE

vintner systems The computer system for drinks trade wholesalers and importers 16 Station Road Chesham Bucks HP5 1DH sales@vintner.co.uk www.vintner.co.uk

Vintner Systems has been supplying specialist software solutions to the wine and spirit trade in the UK and Ireland for over 30 years. After 300 installations at a wide range of business types, we have developed the ultimate package to cover everything from stock control and accountancy to EPOS, customer reserves, brokering and en-primeur. Whether you are a specialist wine retailer, importer or fine wine investment company, our software will provide you with the means to drive your business forward.

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jeroboams trade 7-9 Elliott's Place London N1 8HX 020 7288 8888 sales@jeroboamstrade.co.uk www.jeroboamstrade.co.uk

@jeroboamstrade

hallgarten wines Mulberry House Parkland Square 750 Capability Green Luton LU1 3LU 01582 722 538 sales@hnwines.co.uk www.hnwines.co.uk @hnwines

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liberty wines

New wines from McLaren Vale and Chianti Classico – and our first from Georgia

020 7720 5350

We are excited to welcome three new additions to our list this month.

order@libertywines.co.uk www.libertywines.co.uk

important wine region – near the eastern border with Azerbaijan. Made

Bedoba (meaning “Day of Luck”) hails from Kakheti – Georgia’s most by winemakers Nugzar Ksovreli and Thierry Fontannaz from Saperavi – a teinturier grape and Georgia’s signature red variety – fermented in a combination of stainless-steel tanks and traditional clay qvevri vessels then

@liberty_wines

aged in used American oak barrels and 5,000-litre wooden vats, the wine is savoury and spicy with fresh acidity, soft tannins and a seamless texture. MMAD is a new venture from (and acronym of) Shaw + Smith’s Martin Shaw and Michael Hill-Smith MW, winemaker Adam Wadewitz and David LeMire MW, who in early 2021 bought an existing site in the sought-after, high-altitude Blewitt Springs area of McLaren Vale, attracted by the old vine Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Grenache. Strikingly perfumed and structured, their debut releases illustrate this vineyard’s great potential. The Dievole estate in Chianti Classico has ancient origins, with records of its name – from “Dio Vuole” or “God willing” – dating back to 1090. Its purchase in 2012 by Alejandro Bulgheroni started the renovation and organic certification (from the 2017 vintage) of over 150 hectares of vineyards. Made by Luigi Temperini with the support of Alberto Antonini, the wines include a rich and complex Trebbiano and “Vigna di Sessina” – the best selection of Sangiovese from this outstanding, fossil-rich site.

The Wine Merchant Magazine Essential Oil ... is not yet available. While we work on that, the only way to experience the heady, just-printed aroma of your favourite trade magazine is to get your own copy, and breathe it in while it’s fresh. If you don’t qualify for a free copy, you can subscribe for just £75 a year within the UK. Email claire@winemerchantmag.com for details. Or you can read every issue online, as a flippable PDF – just visit winemerchantmag.com. There’s no registration, and no fee. And, sadly, no aroma.

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 2021 62


BERKMANN wine cellars 104d St John Street London EC1M 4EH 020 7609 4711 indies@berkmann.co.uk www.berkmann.co.uk @berkmannwine @berkmann_wine

TOKAJ-OREMUS

The wine of kings and king of wines Louis XIV described Tokaj as ‘the wine of kings and king of wines’ when he tasted it. In 1630 the greatness of the Oremus vineyard was first recorded and today it enjoys the highest universal recognition. The Álvarez family, of Vega Sicilia fame, founded Tokaj-Oremus in 1993. The estate is based in Tolcsva, where a modern winery was connected to the maze of cellars which have been found there since the 13th century. To find out more about our range of dry and sweet Tokaj from Oremus, get in touch with your Berkmann account manager now or email info@berkmann.co.uk

buckingham schenk Unit 5, The E Centre Easthampstead Road Bracknell RG12 1NF 01753 521336 info@buckingham-schenk.co.uk www.buckingham-schenk.co.uk

@BuckSchenk @buckinghamschenk

Founded in 1796, Finca Casa Lo Alto is a 160ha estate based in Utiel-Requena and is one of the oldest wine producers in the area. The estate is surrounded by almond groves and pine trees and is blessed with an exceptional terroir. The Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for growing Bobal, Garnacha and the native white variety Tardana. Casa lo Alto winemaker Victor Marqués is an advocate of minimal intervention, which gives his wines their unique character.

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Fells Fells House, Station Road Kings Langley WD4 8LH 01442 870 900 For more details about these wines and other wines from our awardwinning portfolio from some of the world’s leading wine producing families contact: info@fells.co.uk

www.fells.co.uk

@FellsWine je_fells

top selection 23 Cellini Street London SW8 2LF www.topselection.co.uk info@topselection.co.uk Contact: Alastair Moss Telephone: 020 3958 0744 @topselectionwines @tswine

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mentzendorff The Woolyard 52 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD 020 7840 3600 info@mentzendorff.co.uk www.mentzendorff.co.uk

Hailing from the Alentejo region of Portugal, the Geno Branco and Geno Tinto are made by the Cartuxa winery exclusively for distribution by Mentzendorff in the UK. The name Geno is derived from an old dialectal term for a young farmer, who is depicted on the eye-catching label designed by artist, Antonio Palolo, whilst the wines themselves are deliciously fresh and approachable. “I still cannot quite believe the value offered by this stunningly rewarding wine...The colourful label gives you an idea of the open, refreshing flavours in this engaging red.” “The white counterpart to the red Cartuxa, this is a glorious slice of Alentejo sunshine and stunning local flair. Juicy, ripe and mildly exotic, it also has crisp acidity and masses of charm.” Matthew Jukes, Daily Mail Weekend, November 2021

For more information, please contact your Mentzendorff Account Manager

AWIN BARRATT SIEGEL WINE AGENCIES 28 Recreation Ground Road Stamford Lincolnshire PE9 1EW 01780 755810 orders@abs.wine www.abs.wine

@ABSWines

Gary & Kathy Jordan of Jordan Estate, Stellenbosch, also have a home in the UK, where they have produced and launched their very own gin. Mousehall Sussex Dry Gin is Mousehall's signature gin. The botanicals are distilled in a traditional 400L Copper Pot Still at the historical and medieval Mousehall Country Estate in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Mousehall Sussex Dry Gin is made sustainably and handcrafted by the Jordan family, with daughter Christy at the helm, in their Distillery & Winery at Mousehall Country Estate. This classically London Dry style gin is produced from both grape and grain neutral spirit together with 13 different botanicals to create a perfectly balanced Juniper-forward Gin. Hints of fresh citrus, cardamom and a special South African ingredient, Rooibos (Redbush tea) adding a floral element to this refreshing and zesty gin. For further information contact your Account Manager

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walker & Wodehouse

Congratulations to Xanadu Huge congrats to chief winemaker Glenn Goodall at Xanadu wines on being named

109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR 0207 449 1665 orders@walkerwodehousewines.com www.walkerwodehousewines.com

@WalkerWodehouse

as 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year. Over the years, Glenn and his team have racked up an impressive 339 gold medals and 127 trophies across various wine shows. Founded in 1977 by Irishman Dr John Lagan, Xanadu is a true pioneer of the West Australian wine region of Margaret River. With a rich history of producing wines of uncompromising quality, Xanadu wines are renowned for their distinct character that embody all that is Margaret River.

This

Mediterranean

climate and gravel sandy loam soils deliver ideal conditions enabling

Chardonnay

and

Cabernet to flourish. These varieties, alongside Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, are the primary focus at Xanadu.

Famille Helfrich Wines 1, rue Division Leclerc, 67290 Petersbach, France chris.davies@lgcf.fr 07789 008540 @FamilleHelfrich

SAVE THE

DATE LONDON 2022 JOIN US:

THE ULTIMATE PORTFOLIO EVENT

October 4th & 5th 2022 You are invited to GCF’s Private Wine Days – The Ultimate Portfolio Event For the first time, Les Grands Chais de France will be showcasing the best bits from its entire portfolio in London, as well as launching its on-trade Signature Range of 22 top properties selected for wine making excellence. Other highlights will include: new international award-winning properties in Chile, Spain, Germany and Hungary, Calvet the UK’s no 1 pan-appellation French brand, Crémant from every French producing region, a range of zero % wines and spirits and much, much more… …if you thought you knew GCF, think again, a lot has changed and it’s time to take a new look…

10:00am to 5:00pm on both days 16th Floor, 10 York Road, London 16th Floor 10 York Road, London SE1 7ND

They’re all smiles to your face …

STRIC TLY TR ADE & P RESS ON LY

To register: https://gcfprivatewinedaysoctober2022.eventbrite.co.uk

Waterloo car park - Waterloo (1-minute walk) - Embankment (10-minute walk) - Charing Cross (10-minute walk)

« PEOPLE, TERROIRS, PASSION »

THE WINE MERCHANT september 2022 66


Q&A “Aged 14, a glass of Vega Sicilia captured my heart” Abbi Moreno Flora Fine Wines, Maida Vale, London

tells a different story. I was born in Nottingham, but my love for Liverpool comes from their strength to fight for justice and their hate of our government and the newspapers protecting them. In Liverpool you still cannot buy The Sun. Good on ‘em, and they’re pretty good at football too. Who’s your favourite music artist? Oh, I have so many. Freddie Mercury, Nina Simone, Brother Man … Who’s your favourite wine writer? I struggle with this as I feel that honesty is lost in the wine industry. But if I had to pick one it would be Jancis Robinson. What’s your most treasured possession? Pictures of my mother, pre digital. She died two weeks after my 16th birthday and I miss her every day. She was an art historian at Leeds Uni and although I never knew her as a grown woman, I know she would have been proud of what I have done and how I have grown as a woman. She was an active feminist. In the early 80s she started an all-female photographic studio in Leeds to help young female artists have a space to work freely in an industry dominated by men, as the wine industry is. As women, we deal with misogyny every day of our lives, but little is done or said about this.

Abbi Moreno’s Spanish-born grandparents established the famous Moreno Wines business in 1968. She became managing director in 1997 and left shortly after the company was sold to Boutinot in 2016. She took over the original Moreno store in 2019, which is now a wine shop and tapas bar trading as Flora Fine Wines. What’s the first wine you remember drinking? Vega Sicilia 1968, with my grandparents at a birthday party. I was only 14, so just had a small glass, but it captured my heart. What job would you be doing if you weren’t in the wine trade? In the fashion industry. I worked for Katherine Hamnett in my early 20s and enjoyed the all-female environment, and Katherine’s desire to work with ethical

materials and not exploit workers. She was at the forefront of this movement. How do you relax? With a glass of good wine. What’s the best book you’ve read recently? On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It breaks down class barriers and looks at how we behave in different environments. Also I love Dorset. Give us a Netflix recommendation. Boyz. It’s morally twisted and it looks at superheroes and how they exploit their powers. Those that you think are good are rotten to the core. Do you have any sporting loyalties? Only to Liverpool FC. Strangely enough I am not a Londoner, although my accent

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What’s your proudest moment? Giving birth to my amazing sons. Dillon (pictured), my eldest, is 25 and after completing a history degree started working for me in the wine industry and fell in love. So after completing his WSET Level 3 and going to Kerala in India to teach English to local women, he joined me at Flora Fine Wines and manages the bar. Milo, my youngest, just turned 19, has finished a creative media course and is wondering what to do next. He helps us in the bar to earn some extra money washing up, but he’s not discovered the wonders of wine yet. Any hidden talents? Emotional intelligence. What’s your favourite place in the UK? Dorset by the coast. We used to go camping there every year, when the kids were little. We’re granting you three wishes. Go. My mother meets my kids. Speak fluent Spanish. Humans to care more about other humans and their surroundings.